Being grateful or thankful for all the blessings bestowed on you is a noble deed. A Thanksgiving is celebrated mainly for this purpose. It is a day where people celebrate the harvest and blessings of the previous year.
In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated every year on the second Monday of October. The first thanksgiving was celebrated in the country on November 6, 1879. This date kept on changing between October and November each year until in 1957 the Government declared the second Monday of October as the Thanksgiving day.
In 2022, the day falls on 10th October. It is an annual holiday in the country and an optional holiday in Atlantic provinces like Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Labrador.
Why is Thanksgiving in October in Canada?
The general belief is that Thanksgiving in Canada originated from the US as both are neighbouring countries. But the origin of Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to the European tradition of Thanksgiving. In Europe, celebrations connected with harvest and thanksgiving were celebrated in October. It is believed that Canada also started celebrating this day in line with the European celebration.
The origin of Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1578, when European explorer Martin Frobisher landed in Newfoundland, Canada. He lost one of his ships on the way and wanted to thank for his safe arrival in the new country. He celebrated the day with salt beef, mushy peas and biscuits. This is believed to be the origin of the Canadian Thanksgiving, which happened almost fourty three years before the American thanksgiving.
Another reason for the early celebration of Canadian thanksgiving is the geography of the region. Canada lies to the north of the US because of which the harvest season comes early in the country. Since the main reason behind Thanksgiving is to celebrate the harvest season, it makes sense to celebrate the same in October.
Is Thanksgiving a big celebration in Canada?
Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in Canada, with schools, colleges and offices closed for the day. Stores and other business organizations also remain closed. Thus, it is a major celebration in the country, but is a low key affair when compared to the neighbouring country the USA.
Being a long weekend, most families grandly celebrate Thanksgiving. People either visit their family in other parts of the country or invite them home. A special Thanksgiving meal consisting of Turkey, mashed potato with gravy, cranberry sauce and corn is a part of the celebration. Autumn vegetables like squashes, Brussel sprouts and pumpkin are also used during the celebration.
Since Thanksgiving is the last holiday before the winter sets in, people also visit holiday homes to celebrate the occasion. The Canadian football league will also be conducted on Monday afternoon. Various harvest festivals and fests will also be conducted to celebrate the day.
However, the shopping frenzy as seen in the US is not so popular in Canada. Shops are mostly closed or work for reduced hours during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving in Canada?
The custom of eating turkey on Canadian Thanksgiving originated from the American Thanksgiving tradition. There are various reasons behind eating turkey on this special day.
Firstly, turkey is a large bird when compared to chicken and can feed a large family. Moreover, they are cheaper than other poultry like geese and duck. Turkeys are easy to raise in a small farm. Unlike other animals like cow and hen, turkey does not provide milk or egg. They are raised mainly for meat and hence killing them is economically viable. Thus, turkeys started occupying centerstage at Thanksgiving feast.
Besides turkey, provisional delicacies are also prepared in different parts of the country. Jigg’s dinner with split pea pudding is a favourite with Newfoundlanders. For Ontarians, butter tarts are prepared instead of pumpkin pies. Since thanksgiving falls on a Monday, people mostly celebrate it on the day before ie Sunday.
Why do the US and Canada have 2 different Thanksgiving?
US and Canada have different thanksgiving mainly because their origin is also different. While the Canadians celebrate thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, the Americans celebrate it on the fourth Thursday of November.
The origin of American thanksgiving can be traced back to 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans celebrated an Autumn harvest festival together. This is considered to be the first thanksgiving celebration in America. From then on, individual colonies and states celebrated their own thanksgiving. It was in 1863 that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day which was to be celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
As mentioned earlier, the Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated decades before the American thanksgiving with its origin rooted in European tradition. Moreover, since thanksgiving is celebrated coinciding with the harvest season and the season is different in both the countries, it is celebrated at different times during the year.
Though Canada and America celebrate thanksgiving on two different occasions, the crux of the celebration is the same – giving thanks for the harvest.
Even though thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in Canada, it is a low key affair when compared to the US. One reason could be that it is only an optional holiday in Atlantic provinces. The celebration is confined to family and friends having a feast together and celebrating the harvest. There are no major rallies or processions for this day as is seen in the US. Besides, Canadians celebrate the thanksgiving by enjoying the beauty of the Autumn weather rather than going on a shopping frenzy before the onset of Christmas.
When it comes to celebrating thanksgiving, there can be cultural influences in different parts of the world. In Canada, thanksgiving may not be a major celebration as in the US. But the basic concept of Thanksgiving remains the same. It is a time when family and friends come together and enjoy the harvest and beauty of the season.