Next weekend is our Canadian Thanksgiving, which has some similarities and differences to the American one. However, it is celebrated earlier - on the 2nd Monday of October, as declared by Parliament in 1957, to give thanks to God for the bountiful harvest.
The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. Although he didn't succeed, he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In 1578, he held a formal ceremony in what is now Newfoundland to celebrate surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving.
Then during the American Revolution, a lot of Americans who stayed loyal to England moved to Canada and brought many of their customs and traditions of the American Thanksgiving. One such similarity is the pumpkin pie, the standard dessert at every Canadian table. And the biggest difference between the American and Canadian Thanksgivings is that there are no pilgrims associated with the Canadian one.
In Canada, it's a national holiday, but not at all a religious one. Its roots and European heritage lie in something considerably more pagan. Original festivities date back 2,000 years to Celtic priests, the druids, who celebrated a harvest festival. Once the harvest had been safely stored, the Celts prayed for their sun god in the battle with darkness and the cold of winter. And this harvest season marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
Not many Canadians concern themselves with the old paganism, but rather spend the holiday with family and friends. The traditional meal is roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, white or sweet potatoes (mashed with brown sugar and butter), fall vegetables like brussel sprouts, turnips, or carrots and the phenomenal pumpkin pie! Dinner can be on any day of the long weekend, but most eat it on Sunday so they have a day to recover before heading back to work.
I'm not sure what I'm doing this year as my birthday always falls right before the long weekend. Thus, there are always several get-togethers with family and friends to celebrate it. We often combine the two. Regardless, pumpkin pie is always better than birthday cake!
Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!
- Delta, British Columbia, Canada
- I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.