The History and Origin of Canadian & US Thanksgiving
In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October, this year 2009 it falls on Monday Oct. 12th. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada compared to the United States due to the simple fact that Canada is further north.
The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now called Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him - Frobisher Bay.
At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed 'The Order of Good Cheer' and gladly shared their food with their Indian neighbors.
In the US a collective prayer of thanksgiving was led by Captain John Woodlief in the Virginia Colony on December 4, 1619 near the current site of Berkeley Plantation, where celebrations are still held each year in November. Woodleif addressed the 38 men with: "We ordain that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God."
The Pilgrims were particularly thankful to Squanto, the Native American who taught them how to catch eel, grow corn and who served as an interpreter for them (Squanto had learned English as a slave in Europe). Without Squanto's help the Pilgrims might not have survived in the New World. The explorers who later came to be called the "Pilgrims" set apart a day to celebrate at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest, in 1621. At the time, this was not regarded as a Thanksgiving observance; harvest festivals were existing parts of English and Wampanoag tradition alike. Several American colonists have personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
In Canada, after the Seven Year's War ended in 1763, the citizens of Halifax Nova Scotia held a special day of Thanksgiving.
During the American Revolution, Americans who remained loyal to England moved to Canada where they brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. There are many similarities between the two Thanksgivings such as the cornucopia and the pumpkin pie.
In the First US National Proclamation of Thanksgiving, was given by then President George Washington on October 3rd 1789, he created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America.
In the middle of the American Civil War (October 3, 1863), President Abraham Lincoln, prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale, proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863.
"The first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness."
Eventually in 1879, the Canadian Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular was the 3rd Monday in October.
After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.
Finally, on January 31st, 1957, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed..."A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ... to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October. http://www.youtube.com/v/6UTRMP1Uk1k&hl=en&fs=1
From Sir Richard...