We celebrate Christmas and New Year’s on the same day. Our Labour Day’s the same, too. And even our birthdays are extremely close – July 1st and July 4th. So why does Canada celebrate Thanksgiving so far ahead of the U.S.?
The common wisdom seems to be that because we’re so much farther north, our harvest days arrive earlier, and so we give thanks a lot sooner – although it’s hard to be grateful for an earlier winter.
Whatever the truth, there’s one fact history can’t deny – Canada has been celebrating the holiday a lot longer than our southern neighbours.
Thanksgiving in Canada actually goes back to 1578 in Newfoundland, when explorer Martin Frobisher held a ceremony of gratitude for surviving the journey from Europe.
Americans, led by the Puritans and the Mayflower, didn’t begin their annual tradition until 1621 – 43 years later.
But the first official Canuck day of thanks actually started in – of all months – April of 1872, as a grateful nation celebrated the recovery of King Edward VII from an illness.
Our next turkey time came seven years later, and this time it was in November! It stayed that way until 1899, when it moved to a Thursday in October. And talk about an unstable holiday.
In 1901 and 1904, it was on a Thursday in November.
Between 1908 and 1921, it was moved to a Monday in October.
And from 1922 to 1930, it was actually celebrated on what is now Remembrance Day – November 11th!
In fact, Canada didn’t actually settle on a true Thanksgiving Day until 1957, when Parliament finally fixed the date as the second Monday in October, where it remains now, giving us the final long weekend of the season.
Now that’s something to truly be thankful for.