Monday is Thanksgiving in Canada, the second monday in October. It is both similar to the famous American Thanksgiving and yet different. The biggest difference is that it is not treated like a religious occasion which makes up part of our National myth about ourselves. The American Thanksgiving is best understood in this way. It is attached to the iconic early settlement of the Pilgrim Plantation which over the years has been part of the American vision of itself as an exceptional country upon which God has given it special meaning.
The Canadian Thanksgiving is just an occasion to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest and our company with one another. The explorer Martin Frobisher is given credit for holding the first "Canadian Thanksgiving", in 1578. The early French in Canada had the "Order of Good Cheer" feast where they, like the pilgrims shared their bounty with their native neigbours.
When the United Empire Loyalists came to Canada from the US after the Revolutionary War they brought with them the traditions of the American Thanksgiving. Over the years, other groups have come to Canada and contributed to lesser degrees elements of the Canadian Thanksgiving.
As an English Canadian, I very much identify with the American Thanksgiving traditions. Living years in the US and having lovely memories of sharing in the American Thanksgiving has reinforced my affection for these traditions. I always enjoy reading from Bradford's Journal the accounts of the early Pilgrim celebrations of Thanksgiving and sharing and exchanging foods with Massasoit and his tribe from the Cape Cod area. I shall always remember former American friends for their affection for me and my family and their sharing there wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations with us.
Both Canada and the US eat the similar kinds of foods at Thanksgiving: turkey, potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie among other elelments. In Canada, these are not held as being absolutely essential. Other meats, particularly ham, and other vegetables may be easily used in this special meal. Ethnic groups within Canada also may include special foods of their tradition as well as adopting the North American diet.
In both countries, Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather to feast and socialize.
In former years, I have accepted the invitation to join my son and family. This year, while he called, I had already agreed to stay and share a meal with June, my tenant. This year, her husband is not here, he is now in a nursing home.
It occured to me after talking with Parker, he and his family may not have been eating their Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day. I might have been able to have two meals. This I find is another difference between Canada and the US. I don't think Americans would easily shift the day to have Thanksgiving Dinner. I think many Canadians will have their meal tonight, Sunday. I have heard on the radio that others have already had it on Saturday and even Friday. For me, a holiday should be on the holiday so I will have the meal on Monday.
Thanksgiving Greeting from the North Wood!
To my American friends. Happy Columbus Day.
Come next month. I will be acknowledging the American Thanksgiving with all the fond memories it has for me.