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  Weekly Feature (October 8, 2006)

Canadian Thanksgiving



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 the harvest.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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 Thanksgiving

1. Thanksgiving is celebrated the same everywhere.

     a. True

     b. False

2. The general reason for observing Thanksgiving is similar in most countries.

     a. True

     b. False

3. Canada’s earliest Thanksgiving celebration occurred in 1578, as Marin Frobisher wanted to give thanks primarily for

     a. the harvest.

     b. his safe arrival to the New World.

     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.

     a. day

     b. week

     c. month

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

     a. Monday.

     b. Tuesday.

     c. Wednesday.

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 Canadian Thanksgiving:

Quiz on Thanksgiving Verbs

Canadian Thanksgiving Quiz


Check these sites for reference and further details:

KW Happy Thanksgiving (follow the Thanksgiving and related links)

Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Around the World


Visit Last Week's Feature:

Falling Maple Leaves

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(Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)


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