Canadian Thanksgiving Traditions are Shifting

Time’s and traditions have changed, and the Canadian Thanksgiving table reflects that.

Gone are the days of the traditional meat and potatoes meal cooked by Mother for her nuclear family. The Turkey Farmers of Canada brought this new normal to light as they reimagined Norman Rockwell’s classic painting “Freedom from Want,” to reflect a more contemporary Canada (see below).

Thanksgiving has transitioned from a faith-based holiday to a time of gratitude for all that we have here in Canada. “Since Thanksgiving really is a holiday for all, the goal with these portraits is to welcome all Canadians of all ages and cultures to the tradition of the Thanksgiving turkey feast,” says Turkey Farmers of Canada representative Craig Evans.

Thanksgiving, along with Christmas, is still the leading contributor to Turkey sales accounting for 74% year-round. However, just over one in every four families (28%) bought a bird for Thanksgiving in 2018, indicating a shift away from the traditional that reflects what we’ve been seeing across the food industry as a whole. For Canadians, both the menu and the people have changed since Rockwell’s painting 75 years ago.

So what exactly are we seeing at the table this year?

  1. Everyone is pitching in. Pot luck has become a new norm. With each attendee arriving with a different dish, the holiday dinner now includes dietary or allergy considerations and focuses on quality over quantity.
  2. Find the standard turkey, potatoes, stuffing, rolls and canned cranberries a bit blasé? Diversity is coming to what’s on the table along with who is at it. Whether it’s allowing the vegetable sides to shine or going so far as to cook a Tofurky. With 1 in every 10 Canadians being vegetarian or vegan as of 2018 it’s likely someone at your feast is looking for an alternative.
  3. Pumpkin is for more than just pie (and lattes). This year there are more pumpkin recipes than ever before, including pasta, soup, chili, quiche, salad, you name it.

That being said, the turkey should still not be overlooked. Canadians shelled out $2.2 million dollars for their Thanksgiving turkeys in 2018, and predictions expect 2019’s numbers were very close.

For the Canadian food industry, Thanksgiving in 2019 is about making a seat at the table for everyone, and space on the table for everything.

Freedom from Want – Norman Rockwell – 1943

The re-imagined Canadian Thanksgiving by Turkey Farmers of Canada

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