Thanksgiving is a form of harvest festival. However, Thanksgiving as I know it goes far beyond the celebration of a good harvest. Many people focus on the gratitude for the blessings they have received all year.
Today, in the United States, many celebrate Columbus Day—or Indigenous Peoples Day, depending on preference. However, today in Canada, it is Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving (Action de grâce in French) is an annual Canadian holiday to celebrate the harvest is held on the second Monday in October. The objective is to celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the past year. It has officially celebrated as an annual holiday in Canada since November 6, 1879. The date was not set for years, but today, it is held on the second Monday in October.
Some historians give the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America as having taken place during the 1579 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England. He was searching for the Northwest Passage. In 1604, French settlers who crossed to Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain also held feasts of thanks. They formed the “Order of Good Cheer” and held feasts with their First Nations neighbours, with whom they shared food.
|Order of Good Cheer by C.W. Jeffries|
“We spent this winter very pleasantly, and had good fare by means of the Order of Good Cheer which I established, and which everybody found beneficial to his health, and more profitable than all sorts of medicine we might have used.” – Samuel de Champlain, The Voyages, 1613.
At the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, New France ended up in the control of the British. The citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but not every year. Upper and Lower Canada often observed Thanksgiving at different times, often celebrating different events. It was not until 1879, when Thanksgiving was declared a holiday, it was celebrated in either late October or early November, initially on a Thursday in November.
|Canadian troops attend a Thanksgiving Mass in the bombed-out Cambrai Cathedral, France, in October 1918.|
After World War 1, it was combined with the Armistice Day commemoration. In 1931, the two days became separate holidays. Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day, and Thanksgiving was celebrated on the second Monday in October.
Happy Thanksgiving, my Canadian neighbors (or neighbours)!
We still have over a month before it is time to celebrate the United States holiday of Thanksgiving. There will be a multitude of blog posts between now and the fourth Thursday in November regarding the holiday, so I will not cover it at this time.
What I will say is, I am grateful I chose to write two Thanksgiving-themed American historical romances this year. Although one features an American family of German immigrants and the other characters whose families have been in the United States for generations, both have several points in common: gratitude for God, family, freedoms we take for granted that were not always available in other lands, and (of course) romance.