A Little History on Thanksgiving Celebration

Read Time:2 Minute, 48 Second

For over a century, Canadians have celebrated Thanksgiving every year. Unlike the Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving in November, Canadians observe Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October to celebrate the good harvest and blessings the country and people have received in the past year.  

Thanksgiving family dinner set on the table
Thanksgiving picture courtesy Freepik

There are various stories about the origin of this celebration. While most people connect the American festival to the arrival of European settlers to that nation, and in Canada, to the arrival of English explorer Martin Frobisher in 1578, the practice of giving thanks dates back to First Nation communities.  
 
The first nations “sought to ensure a good harvest with dances and rituals. The European settlers brought with them a similar tradition of harvest celebrations (for which the symbol was the cornucopia or horn of plenty), which dates back to European peasant societies,” says the Canadian Encyclopedia. 

However, Frobisher’s Thanksgiving celebration for his and his crew’s safe arrival is considered Canada’s first festival celebration. 

Over forty-five years later, Samuel de Champlain, who was in charge of New France (Newfoundland), gave the Ordre de Bon Temps or the Order of Good Cheer leading to frequent festivals in a bid to control the scurvy epidemic that had taken a heavy toll on the residents of Ill Sainte –Croix. He believed that ensuring residents had nourishing food frequently would help fight scurvy. 

Over the years, Thanksgiving came to be celebrated on various days, usually around October, to take advantage of the last days of warm weather so families could celebrate outside their homes. Also, being further north than America and having a colder climate, Canadians harvest their crops earlier.   

In January 1957, the Canadian government decreed that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the second Monday of October each year.  Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday except in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. 

With that Monday declared a holiday, Canadians have three days to spend time with their families and celebrate with a traditional meal of roasted turkey and stuffing, autumn vegetables, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, and pumpkin pie. 

For the uninitiated, cooking a Thanksgiving turkey can be tricky. Thankfully, you can find various tips online to help you. If you like to skip roasting the turkey the traditional way, several other spicy recipes will delight your palette. Depending on your preferences and tastes, there is a range of turkey recipes to choose from.   

The internet is full of spiced turkey variations such as Asian Spiced Thanksgiving Turkey, Cajun-spiced Turkey, Spiced Roast Turkey, Indian -Spiced Turkey Breast recipe, Jamaican-Spiced Turkey, and Easy Spicy Honey Glazed Turkey. 

Perhaps, this is your first Thanksgiving in Canada. So go ahead, try your hand at cooking the turkey; you have a choice between the traditional one and the spicy varieties. The turkey must be thawed carefully, depending on its size; twenty-four hours in the refrigerator for a four-to-five-pound bird is the norm. 

Enjoy the day with friends and family. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Immigrant Muse! 

Kshama Ranawana
Kshama Ranawana

Kshama Ranawana is a freelance writer, publishing both in Canada and in Sri Lanka, her country of birth. She is a contributing columnist to EconomyNext.com and Counterpoint.lk. Kshama is also a human rights activist, with decades long commitment to freedom of speech, protection of journalists, freedom of worship, women’s rights, and protection of vulnerable communities and the environment. 

Email: kshama@immigrantmuse.ca

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