Friday, October 8, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving

Did you know?

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to Martin Frobisher, the explorer, who had been searching for the northern passage to the Pacific Ocean.  Frobisher had safely returned from an expedition and in 1578, to commemorate this safe homecoming, he held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey.  This feast was one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations by Europeans in North America.

At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Canada with Samuel de Champlain in 1604, also held feasts of thanks.  They formed The Order of Good Cheer. 

After the Seven Years' War ended in 1763 and New France became part of British North America, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving.  In 1799, Thanksgiving was observed, but it was still not yet held annually.  After the American Revolution, American Loyalists came to Canada and brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving with them.  The first Thanksgiving observed after the Canadian Confederation was established was on April 5,  1872 to celebrate the recovery of the Princes of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

Starting in 1879, Thanksgiving Day was observed yearly, but the date was flexible.  The theme of Thanksgiving also changed annually to reflect an important event to be thankful for.  In its early years, Thanksgiving was often celebrated for an abundant harvest, which is the tradition that we are familiar with today. 

After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday in the week of November 11th.  In 1931, the two days were separated as holidays and Armistice Day was formally renamed Remembrance Day.

There you have it!  The quick Canadian version of how Thanksgiving came to be.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend!!


ButtonMad said...

Very interesting and informative posts - thanks for sharing.

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