Meaning of Canadian Thanksgiving

Time to educate my American friends on the topic of Canadian Thanksgiving.  Every fall, I always get asked:

  1. Why is Canadian Thanksgiving so far in advance of the American Thanksgiving?
  2. Why relationship is there between Canada and the pilgrims that settled/invaded the US?

Canadian Thanksgiving does not celebrate the pilgrims in any way!  In fact, it’s origin is traced back to 1576, where the English Pirate Explorer Martin Frobisher failed to find a northern passage to the Orient.  Instead, he landed near Greenland and mistakingly mistook the Inuits that greeted him for Asians.  Martin Froshiber held a celebration in Newfoundland to give thanks for a safe journey and for an abundant supply of food.  This was the first Canadian Thanksgiving.  Historians argue whether the date was in 1576 or 1578, but whatever… you get the gist of it.

So you’re probably asking yourself, “Trevin, if Canadian and American thanksgiving are unrelated, why do they share the same customs?”.  The reason is that during the American Revolution, Americans who were still loyal to England fled moved to Canada.  Along with their “move”, they brought along their American thanksgiving customs and practices. Thank god, because I really like pumpkin pie!

The actual day that Thanksgiving was celebrated changed quite a bit throughout history, but it wasn’t until 1957 that Canadian Parliament officially declared that Thanksgiving was to be celebrated on the second monday in October.

This concludes today’s lesson in history with Professor Trevin Chow. Good night.