The second Monday in October is Thanksgiving in Canada, my favourite holiday! It looks like we will have perfect Indian Summer weather too – bonus! Oops – the way things go these days that term may not be politically correct – no offence meant!
Now for a quick history briefing. The origins of the first Thanksgiving in Canada go back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher’s Thanksgiving celebration was not for harvest, but for homecoming. I guess so!
He had safely returned from an unsuccessful search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin. In 1578, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey. Years later, the tradition of a feast would continue as more settlers began to arrive to the Canadian colonies.
The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving can also be traced to the French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century, who also took to celebrating their successful harvests.
As many more settlers arrived in Canada, more celebrations of good harvest became common. New immigrants into the country, such as the Irish, Scottish and Germans, would also add their own traditions to the harvest celebrations.
As they do in the States in November, family and friends in Canada traditionally gather and eat way too much food. At our son’s house this year it will be roast turkey with stuffing and gravy, ham, and assorted veggies with squash and sweet potatoes obligatory. Farm fresh pumpkin and apple pies for dessert! There will be three generations including our two youngest grandchildren, ages 2 and 3, who always inspire laughter. The best part of this holiday is that we all take the time to count our blessings and think about being thankful … without going shopping or opening any gifts. WE are the gift and that’s a beautiful thing!
We live in a wonderful country where democracy rules and we enjoy freedoms still being fought for in many other parts of the planet. Even in this time of economic uncertainty, we have much for which to give thanks. Let’s focus on the positive, take time every day to do something kind for others, and celebrate each day for the gift it is. I know you want to!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours in Canada. Happy Columbus Day to our American neighbours. There’s always something to celebrate!
And now a word from the turkey.
How will you celebrate Thanksgiving? Is your menu like ours or do you plan a different meal? Is Columbus Day celebrated in any special way?