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EAT THIS ONE UP
Rev your appetites, Bullet readers. Thanksgiving is this weekend and that pumpkin pie isn’t going to eat itself.
But before slipping on your stretchy pants, you should know there’s more to this festive holiday than good food and a day off work (though we’re very thankful for those things, too).
So, without further ado, it’s time for a Thanksgiving primer with all the trimmings.
…the traditions most commonly associated with Thanksgiving started long before any Europeans set-up shop in North America. Rather, they can be traced to First Nations from across the continent who held yearly feasts of gratitude in celebration of a plentiful harvest.
Many of today’s most popular Thanksgiving dishes stem from foods indigenous to the Americas, including: squash, corn, potatoes, cranberries and yes — turkeys, which can trace their roots on this continent back more than 11 million years.
THEN IN 1578…
… an English voyager named Martin Frobisher and his crew landed in what is now Newfoundland after a dicey journey across the Atlantic in search of the Northwest Passage.
To show gratitude for their safe arrival, the group celebrated communion and indulged in a less-than-tantalizing meal of salt beef, mushy peas and crackers.
While decidedly low key, this meal made its mark on history for becoming the first European Thanksgiving celebration in North America, predating the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock by — wait for it — 42 years.
So, while America may lay claim to the better-known Thanksgiving holiday, the trend of giving thanks around the dinner table actually began right here, in Canada. (ICYMI, they have us to thank for Labour Day, too.)
MAKING IT OFFICIAL
Thanksgiving celebrations played out across the country at various points in the 300 years after Frobisher landed on “The Rock,” but it wasn’t formally declared a Canadian holiday until 1879.
In the years following WWI, Thanksgiving and Armistice Day (now known as Remembrance Day) were observed simultaneously on the Monday of the November 11th week, but that only lasted a few years until each holiday was given their own day of commemoration (rightfully so).
Finally, on January 31, 1957, the House of Commons established that Canadian Thanksgiving be celebrated annually on the second Monday of October.
And the rest, as they say, is gravy.
OK, BUT WHY DON’T WE ALL JUST CELEBRATE AT THE SAME TIME?
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but Canada’s proximity to the North Pole means the harvest comes earlier here than it does down south.
So, while our American friends give thanks on the fourth Thursday of November, we gather ‘round the turkey on the second Monday of October (and hope the meat sweats keep us warm till spring).
BUT SOME THINGS ARE THE SAME, RIGHT?
Besides the fact both countries share a love of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, we also have a mutual craving for Thanksgiving football.
Every year, the CFL hosts a doubleheader on Thanksgiving Monday in a Canada-wide television event known as the Thanksgiving Day Classic. This year’s matchups are (
drumstick drumroll, please): Montreal vs. Calgary and Edmonton vs. Saskatchewan.
SOME FUN FACTS
If like most of us, you’re hoping to avoid talking politics around the table this weekend, we’ve provided a li’l extra Thanksgiving trivia to fill the awkward silence between dinner and dessert:
- The first post-Confederation Thanksgiving celebration was held on April 15th, 1872 to show gratitude for King Edward VII’s recovery from illness.
- Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in all areas of Canada except in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Canadians purchased 2.2 million turkeys for Thanksgiving last year — equal to 31% of all turkeys sold in 2017.
- Canada has its own version of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Parade is celebrated annually (this year marks the 50th anniversary!) and it’s broadcast nationwide at noon.
- The first known recipes for pumpkin pie were recorded in the 1600s.