Canada - Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day

This year: Sunday, October 14, 2018

Thanksgiving Day In Canada

The Canadian holiday of Thanksgiving is a little bit more complicated than the American version of the same holiday. In fact, there was no reason of thanking in the creation of this holiday. However, it has its history.

In 1578 the English explorer Martin Frobisher had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient through Canada. He never found such a passage, but he did survive his long and unsafe journey. With good reason he had decided to hold a formal ceremony to give thanks for his survival. Even if this created the tradition of giving thanks in Canada, it is not recognized by the Canadian government as the first official Canadian Thanksgiving Day. Canadians had to wait the Thursday January 10, 1799 to see this happening. It was the first sanctioned holiday to celebrate the end of the Seven Years' War from 1763 and the handing over New France to the British.

Nevertheless, Canadian Thanksgiving Day was not celebrated regularly after 1799. The next officially recognized Canadian Thanksgiving Day did not occur until Thursday August 12, 1802 and this was simply in thanks for God's mercies. In the early days of the Canadian Thanksgiving the reasons for thanking centered usually around present military victories, as well as those of the past. Many Canadian Thanksgiving Days were however declared to celebrate God's mercies or an abundant harvest. In November of 1879 the tradition of having an annual feast of Thanksgiving for a rich harvest had set in.

The dates varied and some Thanksgiving Days were even celebrated in October instead of November. But each year the Canadian government would decree a Thanksgiving date and that is when it would be celebrated. Thus, in 1902 there were three official Canadian Thanksgiving Days. The first was Thursday June 26, 1902 and it was proclaimed to celebrate the coronation of English King Edward VII. However that date got moved to Saturday August 9, 1902 and it was declared a general day of Thanksgiving and a day to celebrate the King's coronation. On Thursday October 16, 1902 the general day of Thanksgiving was finally celebrated.

Today the Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October with the actual holiday starting the Saturday before and lasting until the end of Monday. Some provinces in Canada extend the holiday to begin on the Friday before instead of the Saturday. Either way, Canadian Thanksgiving has its origins in the very discovery of Canada by European explorers and has seen a variety of dates and reasons for its celebration.

From 1921 to 1930 the Canadian Thanksgiving had been declared to celebrate Armistice Day. But after the last Thanksgiving on Monday November 10, 1930, the Canadian government decided to make Armistice Day an autonomous holiday and Thanksgiving received the general declaration of a day to thank God for blessings on Canada.

The actual date of Thanksgiving jumped around from 1930 to 1956 but it was always celebrated on either the first or second Monday in October. Finally, in 1957, the Canadian government decreed that the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday would always be celebrated on the second Monday in October and that is the way it has been ever since.

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