Continuing our theme from last week of seasonal holidays, one cannot ignore the time of thanks that is given in North America. Both Canada and the United States celebrate Thanksgiving – however the similarities and differences are of equal length. For instance, both holidays originated from a historical and religious background – Being thankful for God’s provision in a time of exploring new lands. Yet in the USA, the holiday is also in thanks of the Native Americans who provided for pilgrims who had only recently arrived.
Every second Monday of October Canada will partake in this special day; in the USA, it falls on the 4th Thursday of November. And though the dates are different, the foundations and customs are largely the same — Thanksgiving is a time to be together with the family and close friends, and subsequently it tends to be one of the busiest travel times of the year for people. In Canada, the day is also used to go hiking and be outside, as the temperature at the time is more suitable to such endeavors. It should also be noted that In the USA Thanksgiving is followed in all 50 states – this is not the case in Canada, as places such as Nova Scotia and other areas in the Atlantic Provinces don’t necessary follow suit.
In terms of food, which is important to so many holidays, turkey remains the staple dish. Meals are usually home-cooked, with some people taking hours to prepare the perfect traditional dishes. Other popular dishes include pumpkin pie, casseroles, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and bread. But of course, these dishes aren’t exactly authentic to the earliest Thanksgiving.
Sports are key in the US celebration, with football being a sports-fan necessity during the time. And though this may seem like a modern event, it actually is quite an old tradition and one that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
In terms of historical timing, the Canadian Thanksgiving actually happened first by more than 40 years, celebrated by an explorer known as Martin Frobisher, and even longer before that when you recognize the harvest festivals celebrated by Native Americans/First Nations before that.
For the USA, Thanksgiving also represents an intense time of preparation for December holidays, particularly Christmas and Hanukkah. In the USA, there is Black Friday. Everyone wakes from blissful slumber and full bellies and drags themselves out of bed far too early to go shopping, as Black Friday is notorious for deep discounts and unstoppable crowds.
In Canada, this shopping day is known as Boxing Day and it is held the day after Christmas instead, creating much less of rush around the Thanksgiving Holiday. The fact that retailers and materialism has found its way into the home through these holidays has not gone unnoticed and is frowned upon by some.
Thanksgiving is a major part of USA and Canadian tradition, forcing our cultures to slow down and take in the previous year; we look back at what to be thankful for, expressing that thanks to our family, our friends, our God. Have you experienced a Thanksgiving? What did you think?