For some of us Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate a long weekend, usually eating delicious food consisting of Turkey, with family & Friends. But let’s explore the real meaning behind Thanksgiving.
Let’s take a trip back to 1621 Plymouth Massachusetts. After the harvest crops were gathered Govenor William Bradford announced a meeting on the hill for all pilgrims to listen to the pastor render Thanksgiving to God for all “his blessings” and to give thanks to Squanto and the Native Americans for teaching them how to do things and live life in different ways.
You might think that after 1621 the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving every year and that it just became a national holiday. Well, that’s not the way it happened. It wasn’t until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an annual National Holiday.
Canadian Thanksgiving is more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. The very first celebration in Canada was in 1578 when Martin Frobisher an explorer from England arrived in Newfoundland. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World, peace and good harvest. That means the 1st Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth Massachusetts.
For a few hundred years, thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November but it was declared a National Holiday in 1879, originally on November 6th, but after the World Wars it was moved to the second Monday in October because it kept conflicting with Remembrance day.
Another reason for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. Other than the date there is not much difference in our celebrations, we both celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey.
What will you be doing to celebrate Thanksgiving this year?