As October begins, many Canadian
families start planning for Thanksgiving celebrations. Thanksgiving is
observed with great enthusiasm in many corners of the world, yet on
different dates and with somewhat different customs and rituals. For
example, the August Moon Festival in China, Tet Trung Thu in
Vietnam, Kwanzaa in Africa, Pongal in India, and Chusok
in Korea. The underlying reason for celebrating is generally consistent
– to give thanks for a fruitful harvest and for our health and prosperity.
The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving
are closely tied to European traditions. Long before Europeans settled in
North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe during October. Canada’s earliest
Thanksgiving, also considered the very first Thanksgiving celebration in
North America, took place in today’s Canada when Martin Frobisher, an
explorer from England,
arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks not so much for
the local harvest, but mostly for safely arriving to the New World – the
Americas. Frobisher established the first settlement in North America.
As other settlers arrived later in today’s Canada, they continued to
celebrate Thanksgiving each year yet with emphasis on giving thanks for
Over the next few hundred years,
Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early
November. It was eventually declared in 1879 a national Canadian holiday,
with November 6th being the official Thanksgiving Day. Following the
World Wars, however, Remembrance Day (November 11th)
and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. To prevent this overlap,
finally on January 31, 1957, the Canadian Parliament announced that from
then on, every second Monday in October shall be a day of Thanksgiving
celebration for Canada’s plentiful harvest.
The Americans, on the other hand,
first celebrated Thanksgiving some 43 years after Canada’s earliest
Thanksgiving. This is because the American Thanksgiving is based on the
arrival of Pilgrims from England. These Pilgrims, in search for new land
to freely practice their religion, landed in 1620 in Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.
Following a very difficult first year, these pilgrims in 1621 enjoyed a
huge harvest. They held a great feast in celebration. The American
Thanksgiving, held now on the fourth Thursday of each November, is to
commemorate that great feast.
This year, our Canadian Thanksgiving
holiday falls on Monday, October 9th. We celebrate this
special day with family and friends, over a special feast, as we give
thanks for all the good and prosperity in our lives. A traditional meal
is a turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry
sauce, squash, wild rice, yams, and for dessert, pumpkin pie.
Now, check your comprehension of the
above reading by trying the following quiz. Answers are provided at the
end. Two related quizzes, and references, follow.
Quiz on Canadian
1. Thanksgiving is celebrated the same
2. The general reason for observing
Thanksgiving is similar in most countries.
3. Canada’s earliest Thanksgiving
celebration occurred in 1578, as Marin Frobisher wanted to give thanks
a. the harvest.
b. his safe arrival to the New
c. the great weather.
4. As settlers arrived in today’s
Canada, they continued to celebrate Thanksgiving each year with focus on
giving thanks for
a. the harvest.
b. Frobisher’s safe arrival to
the New World.
c. the great weather.
5. When first proclaimed a national
Canadian holiday, Thanksgiving was to be celebrated every
a. second Monday in October.
b. November 11th
c. November 6th
6. The original official day of
Thanksgiving kept falling on the same _______ as Canada’s Remembrance Day.
7. The origin of the American
Thanksgiving celebration is _________ Canada’s Thanksgiving origin.
a. the same as
b. different from
8. The Canadian Thanksgiving is
celebrated every second Monday in October, while the Americans celebrate
this holiday every
a. first Monday in January.
b. third Friday in November.
c. fourth Thursday in November.
9. This year, Canadian Thanksgiving
falls on October 9th, which is a
10. The traditional Thanksgiving meal
is not likely to include
a. a turkey.
b. some cranberry sauce.
c. fried fish.
Answers: 1.b. 2.a. 3.b. 4.a. 5.c.
6.b. 7.b. 8.c. 9.a. 10.c.
Additional short quizzes on
Quiz on Thanksgiving Verbs
Check these sites for reference and
KW Happy Thanksgiving (follow the Thanksgiving and related links)
Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Around the World