The unknown history of Thanksgiving

8 10 2012

Now I know, today is Thanksgiving and everyone is too busy catching up with distant family and stuffing themselves with delicious food to be online reading random blogs about history. But maybe you will get around to reading this sometime as you recover from all that turkey in the coming week.


The amazing food that always comes with Thanksgiving is usually at the foremost of everyone’s minds during this holiday!

What DO we know about Thanksgiving?

I find we Canadians don’t really seem to care so much about the history of this holiday so much as we are concerned about the food.

We know the what: turkey, pumpkin pie and thankfulness.

We know the when: second Monday of October

We know where and who: Canada and Canadians

But have you ever wondered about the “why?” we have this holiday?

I did and so one day…I did some digging. The history behind Thanksgiving in Canada is actually rather interesting.

The unknown history of Canadian Thanksgiving 

As tradition today has it, Canadian Thanksgiving DOES celebrate the harvest and has ever since 1959 when Parliament officially designated it. The second Monday in October was to be “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. But Thanksgiving has been celebrated in Canada long before that in all different ways and for all different reasons!

For instance, the Natives have all had harvest celebrations throughout their long history in the country.

The first thanksgiving by Euro-people in Canada began with  Martin Frobisher who was an explorer and was celebrating his safe return to Newfoundland in 1578.

Then there were the French settlers who celebrated the Order of Good Cheer to keep the citizens content throughout the harsh Canadian winters.

After the American Revolution those loyal to the British brought their own thanksgiving traditions over to Canada .

The first time Thanksgiving was a civic holiday was April 5, 1872, in celebration of the recovery of the Prince of Wales from an illness. After 1879 it was observed annually but announced each year on a different day and for different reasons for which to be thankful for.

So really, we do have quite an interesting history surrounding our thanksgiving. But at the end of the day, it’s always been about thankfulness, “to God, the Queen and the benefits believed to flow from both” as puts it.  

Sunset, ocean

Another beautiful Thanksgiving day sets into history.




7 responses

8 10 2012

Love that sunset photo! Great post I think I totally missed out on the lesson of Thanksgiving in high school. In a way Thanksgiving is an everyday affair just being happy knowing that you’re here being part of a larger plan!

9 10 2012

Thanks Cheryl! I never learned anything about Thanksgiving in highschool either. It wasn’t until I was asked too many questions about it from my American friends that I really did some digging.

9 10 2012
Shari Styles

Thanks for the background on Thanksgiving! The pumpkin cheesecake was so delicious.

9 10 2012

Great posts. Good use of images and tags. Don’t forget to link.

9 10 2012
Alan O'Sullivan

I usually struggle to even remember the “when”, believe it or not. Good post!

10 10 2012

That cheesecake looks awesome! Did you bake it?

This is a great post, my whole family was wondering this over dinner! (We’re all mostly dual-citizens with America and celebrate both, but felt silly knowing about one and not the other!). Thanks!

10 10 2012

My sister made it. She doesn’t even like cheesecake but she makes them so good! My family celebrates both American and Canadian thanksgivings as well! Can’t have too much turkey.

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