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The Canadian way of Thanksgiving: Its historical importance

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/14/2006 | Social Issues

It is not known to many, but the truth is that the celebration of Thanksgiving Day had came to Canada before it hit mainland America. We are more aware of the Plymouth pilgrims story, but prior to this incident, a gentleman named Martin Frobisher had landed in this region of North America, presently known as Canada. He was originally from England and stepped into Canada for the first time in 1578.

Landing on this new part of the world, he felt that he has successfully reached his destination of exploring the New World. To celebrate his victory, along with paying homage to God for his safe arrival in this new land, he organized the first thanksgiving party in Canada in 1578. Now it is clear that this was forty-three years before the Plymouth pilgrims reached Massachusetts in 1621 and organized the their Thanksgiving feast.

The European trend in Canadian Thanksgiving

The flavor of Europe is more dominant in the Canadian way of celebrating the Thanksgiving event. Martin Frobisher was more aligned to the harvest festival ceremonies he had seen in his motherland. In order to show his gratitude to God, he made a replica of the same in Canada, the newly discovered land.

Harvests were traditionally celebrated for high yields in England to show their gratitude to the Great Heavens for showering these blessings. In a similar way, Frobisher applied the same thanksgiving prayers to honor reaching their destination safely.

The announcement of Thanksgiving Day as an official holiday

Initially, started by this European gentleman, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated sometime between October and November, in the fall season. Canadians had made it a part of their harvest ceremony offering prayers to God. In 1879, this important event gained official decorum and an official holiday was announced on November 6 in that the same year. Hence, people in Canada began to celebrate this particular day as the Thanksgiving Day.

For more than half a century, this date remained as the official day for celebrating Thanksgiving Day. After the Second World War, however, things changed. In 1957, the then Canadian Parliament made the decision to organize this special occasion in the month of October, on Monday of the second week, and November 11 was made Remembrance Day. This occurred so that both of these events had a sufficient time gap between to be celebrated in their individual ways.

The geographical importance cannot be overlooked

As Canada lies in the far north on a map of North America, geographically this locations time cycle is different from that of the United States. Therefore, autumn here approaches earlier compared to that of the rest of America. Consequently, the harvest season should also arrive earlier. To carry on with the importance of this festival, Thanksgiving Day began to be celebrated in the month of October and not in November as celebrated by the Americans.

Hardly a months time is left for this years grand feast on Thanksgiving Day in October, so how are you doing with your preparations?