Canadian Thanksgiving

While our friends in the United States observe Columbus Day this weekend, Canadians up north are celebrating Thankgiving. Canadians celebrate the holiday on the second weekend in October because of the earlier harvest.

Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims 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, whose aim was to find a northern passage to Asia. He did not succeed but he did establish an English settlement in North America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in the province known today as Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. In the ensuing decades, other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. Forbisher was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him: Frobisher Bay.

At around the same period, French explorers who settled in eastern Canada also held huge feasts of thanks - celebrations that were first observed by French explorer Samuel de Champlain. These Frenchmen formed an organization called 'The Order of Good Cheer' (L'Ordre de Bon Temps) with autumn feasts, theatre performances, dances and celebrations designed to celebrate New France and its many bounties.
Canadians today enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner on either the Sunday, as we do, or on Thanksgiving Monday, which is a statutory holiday. Below are some photos of our celebration on Sunday at my parents' house. Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!
Everyone gathers around the dining room table for a big, hearty meal.

Most people can't stand them, but my grandmother loves her brussels sprouts and helps herself to a steaming spoonful.
Apple and pumpkin pies baked by my grandmother.

After dinner, my nephew put on a puppet show for us. He made the set and the puppets and called the show "My Crazy Thanksgiving." It involved a pizza delivery man, a French chauffeur, a postman and a turkey that ran away with the spoon.


will said...

beautiful pictures!

Kenn said...

My goodness.. you can tell all the Ritchie men are related! You all look alike! Hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. I can't wait for the US version next month!


Thanks, guys! Yes, Kenn, the Ritchie boys are all dark-haired, dark-eyed folk. The US Thanksgiving is much more grand than Canada's, kicking off the entire holiday season. Maybe I'll come over just for the pies!


Brent said...

Hi, Andrew

I loved this entry. I can't imagine anyone not liking brussel sprouts!

susan's buzz said...

Your nephew is a DOLL, what a cute puppet show! and I just wanted to dive into your grandmother's apple & pumpkin pies. Great blog :)

DowneastVintage said...

I enjoyed learning about the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you for sharing your family tradition.
I enjoy your blog as much as I enjoy Martha's blog and I learn different things from each blog.
Keep up the great job!
Winterport, Maine


Thank you so much, Gloria! I'm glad you like the blog so much. I love going to Maine. It's been years since I've been there, but it's definitely one of my favourite places to visit.


Maureen said...

Hi Andrew,

I spent Thanksgiving with my daughter in Calgary this year. Got up to the mountains - they are just gorgeous this time of the year.

I am glad you had a nice one too.


P.S. By the way in November's Vanity Fair they have a one page spread on Martha's desk at her Bedford home. It's interesting!


Canada's west has us beat, for sure. Nothing compares to the majesty of those mountains. I'm glad you enjoyed your long weekend, Maureen. Thanks for the news about the Vanity Fair article! I'll check it out for sure.


Elaine said...

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Andrew! I love learning about the history of the Canadian Thanksgiving and the photos of the dinner are wonderful. The table setting is very elegant and I love how your grandmother's pies were showcased on silver platters with beautiful leaves!