Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Canadian Thanksgiving?

Several people have asked me over the years why Canucks celebrate Thanksgiving. Turkey Day, I realized once I moved south of 49, is a uniquely American tradition devoted to family, turkey and football (not necessarily in that order). Any traditions I had prior to moving to the States must have misplaced because they weren't American. After all, Canadians are weird creatures who arranged for a long weekend rather than a day off in the middle of the darned week. (Sorry, I had to get that out.)

I should note here that I will be attending the Canadian High Commission's Annual Thanksgiving Day Ball this coming Saturday. Nyeh! Nyeh!

One of the brilliant ladies from my bulletin board, Gina, posted this information and permitted me to copy it for your enjoyment. What is Canadian Thanksgiving? Read and learn:

Actually, Canadians have been celebrating Thanksgiving longer than the people of the United States...

Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October. This year Thanksgiving fell on Monday, October 10, 2005.

Thanksgiving in Canada has generally thought to come from three traditions.

European farmers in Europe held celebrations at harvest time to give thanks for their good fortune of a good harvest and abundance of food. They would often fill a curved goat's horn with fruits and grains. This was known as a cornucopia or horn of good plenty. When Europeans came to Canada it is thought to have become an influence on the Canadian Thanksgiving tradition.

Around 1578 English navigator Martin Frobisher held a ceremony, in what is now called the province of Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving his journey there, thus celebrating the first Thanksgiving in North America. Other settlers later arrived and continued these "thankful" ceremonies. This was also thought to be an influence on the Canadian Thanksgiving tradition.

The third influence happened in 1621 in what was to become the United States. Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the "New World". Around 1750 this celebration of harvest was brought to Nova Scotia by American settlers from the south. At the same time, French settlers arriving were also holding feasts of "thanksgiving". These celebrations and offerings of "Thanks" influenced the Canadian Thanksgiving.

In 1879 Canadian Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years the date of Thanksgiving changed several times until on January 31st, 1957 Parliament proclaimed "that the 2nd Monday in October… be a Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November according to a declaration by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. If you think about it this does make sense - since in Canada we have a shorter growing season and our harvest is sooner then in the US - our Thanksgiving celebrations should be earlier to celebrate the harvest time.

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