The first public holiday I experienced in Canada was Thanksgiving. This was a month after leaving my home country of Nigeria to study in Canada as an international student. I had never heard of Thanksgiving before so when October came around I was very confused as to what to do and what the holiday meant. I was very grateful when my roommate invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family.
During the Thanksgiving dinner, I ate delicious roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet corn and other traditional Thanksgiving foods. In Nigeria I’m used to only roasting turkey during Christmas as a holiday tradition so it felt like Christmas came early! I also enjoyed setting up decorations such as pumpkins and cornucopias. Prior to this, I had never seen a pumpkin other than from watching Cinderella’s fairy godmother turning them into a golden carriage. It was interesting to experience a different culture and honestly any holiday that involves lots of food gets me excited.
I also enjoyed playing board games with my roommate’s siblings and watching movies. Over the course of the weekend, I got to appreciate the importance of giving thanks and the weekend gave me the chance to reflect on the little things in life that I am thankful for. My first holiday in Canada was absolutely amazing because of the welcome I received from my roommate’s family.
A lot of international students don’t get to experience Thanksgiving like I did because it may not be celebrated in their home country or they may not have Canadian families to celebrate the holiday with. It gets very lonely during that period when the rest of the school goes to celebrate a holiday that is foreign to them. So if you have an international friend, or know someone who is new to Canada, I would encourage you to invite them to a Thanksgiving celebration and show them the Canadian way of celebrating. I promise you, it will make their Thanksgiving weekend. I appreciate not only the extra day off school Thanksgiving holiday brings but also the opportunity to connect with friends I have made in Canada that have now become my family.