Today - this second Monday in October - is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I have been discussing with some of my American friends why we celebrate earlier than you. One particular wit even asked me if we also celebrate Christmas earlier than Americans! No! We celebrate that the same day as Christians around the world.
But, I, of course, had to go find out why the difference for this day. I found a lot that makes absolute sense.
Thanksgiving Day Celebration in Canada
History of First Canadian Thanksgiving
The first Canadian thanksgiving was celebrated on 15th April 1872 to thank the recovery of King Edward VII from serious illness. The next thanksgiving was celebrated after a few years in 1879 on a Thursday.
Canada later, had a turbulent time deciding the day of national Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was celebrated on a Thursday in November between 1879 and 1898. It was later celebrated on a Thursday in October between 1899 and 1904. Thereafter, it was celebrated on a Monday in the month of October. This was between the period of 1908-1921.
In later years, thanksgiving came to be celebrated on 'Armistice Day'. This was however, amended in 1931.
Finally on January 31, 1957, Parliament announced the second Monday in the month of October as the official 'Thanksgiving Day'. It was declared as "a day of general Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."
Canadian Thanksgiving Celebration
The thanksgiving celebrations include parades, customary 'family feast' and 'turkey'. It is a time for sharing, loving and family reunions. The central idea behind the celebration is to be thankful for the past harvest and praying for the coming year.(source)
As most of my regular readers know, I am not a native Canadian, although I am now a Canadian citizen. My childhood saw us all gathering at the our local Church of England in a celebration of thanks for a successful harvest. Vivid memories of going to church on the Sunday designated "Harvest Festival", and finding the altar piled high with all sorts of produce, harvest. I always took that for granted, (but, no, I don't remember that we had turkey! lol) and only when I had a Canadian child did I embrace the Canadian Thanksgiving Day rituals. I continue to this day gathering the harvest for a big family dinner of turkey and all the trimmings. Gathering in our Canadian kitchen and going through the rituals of cooking the meal together, laughing and sharing with those I hold most dear in my Canadian family.
This year, as for the last few, this day holds special poignancy for me. Yes, I absolutely give thanks for all the blessings I have, but my thoughts always stray to Afghanistan where members of our Canadian 'family' are right now. I think about the Canadians who have given their lives so that I and my family might be together, safely celebrating this day. As I hug my now grown child, I give a silent thanks to those families who this year will have an empty chair at their family table.
"Thank you" are two of the most over-used words in the English language, but words that I never get tired of saying. Today especially, and as always, I give thanks to every single one of our Canadian heroes who are far from hearth and home. I give thanks to the families whose loved ones left for Afghanistan to serve their country in the cause for freedom. To all the families, whose precious loved ones will never return home, for this Thanksgiving or any other: I wish I could show each of you the depth of my heart as I "give thanks" to you, today and every day.
*originally posted on Tanker Bros last year but still holds true today*