It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and being keeners we are celebrating almost six weeks prior to our American neighbours. In the United States, American Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November however here in the northern climes, the second Monday of October has the turkeys running for cover.
The origins of Thanksgiving differ between the two countries. Canadians traditions are rooted in giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. American traditions stem from remembering the pilgrims, paying tribute to them and their harvest.
Who came to the Thanksgiving table first?
It is widely accepted, well at least in Canada, that Canadians were celebrating Thanksgiving first. We do love a good party. Martin Frobisher, an English explorer, is credited with throwing the first Thanksgiving bash in 1578 in what is now known as Newfoundland, marking their safe passage to the New World. It wouldn’t be until that 1620 English colonists in Plymouth began the American tradition.
In the United States the holiday is a federal one, so the majority of Americans get the day off and then a long weekend to recover from mass turkey consumption.
Canadian Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday meaning that most people are granted a day away from the job. However in Canada the rules can be changed at the provincial or territorial level. Gratitude and pumpkin pie are no guarantee. As this long time nurse can attest, be thankful if you are not a shift worker because the rules of holidays don’t necessarily apply. Go hug a shift worker for holding down the fort while you are stuffing yourself with stuffing.
Shopping and American Thanksgiving
We in Canada don’t have the shopping craze of Black Friday associated with Thanksgiving but we do have Boxing Day after Christmas. Equal opportunity to awake in the middle of the night to stand in the freezing cold to save $10 on a television set. With the current exchange rate Canadians save the equivalent of $7.50. Just saying.
Both countries, after centuries of a moving turkey target date, required government legislation as to when the birds would be consumed. In 1941 American Thanksgiving was pronounced to be forevermore the fourth Thursday of November. Bring on the pumpkin pie.
It would take Canada until 1957 to bring in Thanksgiving legislation. To make up for being late to the governing table, Canada would always be first to the party on the second Monday of October.
So an early wish of Happy American Thanksgiving to our US friends from the great white north. We are thankful the is ‘white’ is only decorating our mountains and not begging shoveling from our sidewalk just yet.
We are thankful for so much this Thanksgiving, including the fact you are reading this post! Your ongoing encouragement whether it be in frequent comments or quietly stopping by now and again means a great deal to us.
Is Thanksgiving celebrated where you live?