October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from Canada

It's a holiday in Canada, but the phone still rings from the U.S. -- even while taking a walk in the forest near our house. For our Louisiana friends, you'll notice that Paul is still representing the Bayou state

Yes, Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada too. Unlike the traditional American holiday of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, the purpose of the Canadian Thanksgiving is to give thanks for a successful harvest. Because Canada is that much further north, the harvest is earlier and Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the second Monday in October.

From a history website:

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now called Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him - Frobisher Bay.

At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed 'The Order of Good Cheer' and gladly shared their food with their Indian neighbours.

After the Seven Year's War ended in 1763, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving.

During the American Revolution, Americans who remained loyal to England moved to Canada where they brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. There are many similarities between the two Thanksgivings such as the cornucopia and the pumpkin pie.

Eventually in 1879, Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular was the 3rd Monday in October. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.

Finally, on January 31st, 1957, Parliament proclaimed...

"A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ... to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.

The Pisani family in Canada will celebrate, sort of. It's a day off school, yet Paul's business phone is still ringing with calls. Kish sent Paul and Louis to the store this morning to get a turkey, and they came home with a rabbit. "I thought we could just throw it on the grill," says Paul. "According to my Facebook friends it needs to be braised or stewed or something," replied Kish who is trying to figure out how to get this rabbit out of the refrigerator without wasting food. So, for Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, we're having steak. The rabbit is now in the freezer.

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