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Christmas vs. Thanksgiving: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 14, 2024
Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, marked by gift-giving and festive decorations. Thanksgiving is an American and Canadian holiday for giving thanks, primarily known for feasts and family gatherings.

Key Differences

Christmas is celebrated on December 25th as the birth of Jesus Christ in Christian tradition, involving religious and cultural festivities. Thanksgiving is observed in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November, centering around gratitude and a harvest feast.
Christmas is known for its traditions of decorating trees, exchanging gifts, and various cultural festivities. Thanksgiving focuses on a large meal, usually featuring turkey, as a centerpiece of the celebration, symbolizing gratitude and togetherness.
Christmas often includes attending church services and singing carols, reflecting its religious origins. Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, where the emphasis is on giving thanks, often through family gatherings and special meals.
Christmas is celebrated globally in various forms, often including Santa Claus and other regional customs. Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada, each with its unique traditions and historical origins.
Christmas often involves a period of advent leading up to the day, marking a season of anticipation and preparation. Thanksgiving is typically a one-day celebration, although it marks the beginning of the holiday season in the United States, leading up to Christmas and New Year's Day.

Comparison Chart

Date of Celebration

December 25
Fourth Thursday of November (U.S.)


Celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ
Celebrates harvest and blessings of the past year


Decorating trees, gift-giving, attending church
Preparing and sharing a feast, often turkey

Global Reach

Celebrated worldwide, with variations
Mainly celebrated in the U.S. and Canada

Cultural Symbol

Santa Claus, Christmas tree, nativity scenes
Pumpkin pie, cornucopia, Pilgrim and Native American themes

Christmas and Thanksgiving Definitions


Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
They went to midnight mass on Christmas.


Originally a celebration of the harvest and blessings of the past year.
They shared stories of gratitude at the Thanksgiving dinner.


A period marked by various cultural celebrations and traditions.
The city was adorned with lights and decorations for Christmas.


A day dedicated to expressing gratitude for life's blessings.
They volunteered at a local shelter on Thanksgiving to give back to the community.


In many cultures, a celebration during the winter season.
They sang carols and enjoyed hot cocoa during Christmas.


A time when families come together to celebrate.
Their annual Thanksgiving gathering included relatives from all over the country.


A time for exchanging presents with loved ones.
They spent Christmas Eve wrapping gifts.


A day for giving thanks for blessings and relationships.
Thanksgiving is a time for family reunions and feasts.


A statutory holiday in many countries.
Schools and offices are usually closed on Christmas Day.


Known for its traditional turkey dinner and accompanying dishes.
They spent the morning preparing the Thanksgiving turkey.


A Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus.


An act of giving thanks; an expression of gratitude, especially to God
A hymn of thanksgiving.


December 25, the day on which this feast is observed as a public holiday in many countries.


Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Day.




An expression of gratitude.


An annual church festival (December 25) and in some States a legal holiday, in memory of the birth of Christ, often celebrated by a particular church service, and also by special gifts, greetings, and hospitality.


A short prayer said at meals; grace, a benediction.


Period extending from Dec. 24 to Jan. 6


A public celebration in acknowledgement of divine favour.


A Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ; a quarter day in England, Wales, and Ireland


The act of rending thanks, or expressing gratitude for favors or mercies.
Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.
In the thanksgiving before meat.
And taught by thee the Church prolongsHer hymns of high thanksgiving still.


Spend Christmas;
We were christmassing in New York


A public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities or danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties.


Fourth Thursday in November in the United States; second Monday in October in Canada; commemorates a feast held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag


A short prayer of thanks before a meal


What is Thanksgiving?

A holiday for expressing gratitude, celebrated with a feast, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.

When is Thanksgiving observed in the U.S.?

Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the U.S.

Are gifts exchanged during Christmas?

Yes, exchanging gifts is a common tradition during Christmas.

What is Christmas?

A Christian holiday celebrating Jesus Christ's birth, marked by cultural festivities and gift-giving.

Is Thanksgiving a religious holiday?

Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, though individuals may include religious elements in their personal observances.

What are common Christmas decorations?

Common decorations include Christmas trees, lights, and nativity scenes.

When is Christmas celebrated?

Christmas is celebrated on December 25th.

Are there parades associated with these holidays?

Yes, there are often parades, like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Christmas parades.

Is Santa Claus part of Christmas?

Yes, Santa Claus is a popular figure associated with Christmas in many cultures.

Is volunteering common on Thanksgiving?

Yes, many people volunteer at shelters and food banks on Thanksgiving.

How is Thanksgiving in Canada different from the U.S.?

Canadian Thanksgiving is in October and has different historical origins.

What is a traditional Thanksgiving meal?

A traditional Thanksgiving meal typically includes turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

Is Christmas a religious holiday?

Yes, Christmas has Christian origins but is also celebrated culturally by many.

Do people attend church on Christmas?

Many people attend church services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

What are typical Christmas meals?

Christmas meals vary but often include roast meats, pies, and special desserts.

What does Thanksgiving symbolize?

Thanksgiving symbolizes gratitude and the blessings of the past year.

Do other countries celebrate Christmas?

Yes, Christmas is celebrated worldwide, often with unique regional customs.

What is Black Friday in relation to Thanksgiving?

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for shopping deals and marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.

What are Christmas carols?

Christmas carols are festive songs sung during the Christmas season.

How do people travel during these holidays?

Both holidays see a significant amount of travel as people visit family and friends.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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