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Thanksgiving Day in Canada VS the USA

Updated on March 2, 2015

DID you know there are eight (8) predominant world countries that will celebrate a type of Thanksgiving Day in 2010? They would be Argentina, Brazil, Canada, USA, Japan, Korea, Liberia, and Switzerland. The basic concept of having a day to give thanks for religious beliefs, or protection, an abundant harvest, or all out victories in war over a fiercer opponent is not a Canadian individual idea. IN Europe many years before explorers became famous and popular, a form of giving thanks was taking place. Right off the bat, this is not the reason for this hub. I just want to compare Canada and the USA not to show one country above the other, but just general information about the total similarity and individuality of this celebration, in Canada and in the USA.

Here in Canada, according to folklore and the individual tribes that believe in the day; all speak of the celebration that began way back with the early Aboriginal People many years before its popularity ensued, and Compton's book a Nova Scotian man mentions that in 1710 in Port Royal N.S. when the fort and port finally fell back into England's possession "a great feast of thanks was held by those English": although it's not mentioned in modern History books until the explorer Martin Frobisher (for whom Canada named Frobisher Bay after) while looking for a way to the Orient from England by crossing the Atlantic in a ship, landed in what today we call the province of Newfoundland. This event happened on April 15th 1578 and he like the later Pilgrims was giving thanks to Almighty God for survival and a safe voyage across the vast ocean. He called the Aboriginal people to the formal feast and they showed up in bunches and enjoyed the festivities also. Frobisher was still 43 years ahead of the Pilgrims landing. Meanwhile around 1600 French settlers (who obviously had learnt their traditions in France) arrived in Quebec with Samuel de Champlain the great French explorer and they began a celebration called "Jour de L'action de Grace" (Day of Thanksgiving) in which they had an open outdoor church group meeting then a full meal that everyone could give thanks for everything they could be thankful for, and Champlain too, allowed the Aboriginal people to attend. Here they even formed a charity which when it's translated means "The Order of Good Cheer" as an organizing group for this rightly called holy day with their native neighbours. History goes on to record that in 1763 after the Seven Year War Halifax too had a "Thanksgiving" celebration.

Canada around 1600

Now let us look at our neighbors to the South shall we? There in the USA, Thanksgiving has been around for quite a while also, and there like their Northern allies, the original natives (Indians aka Aboriginal Tribes) played a major part in history in establishing this American holiday too! Now what we found out through diligent internet searching, (pure luck on one of our many hits) is that the Plymouth Pilgrims of 1621 were NOT the first group in the USA to celebrate this feast as many of us have been led to or have believed.

History records 2 whole years earlier, in 1619, that 38 settlers in what is known as "the Virginia Colony" in the town then called Charles Cittee Virginia (today known as Charles City) was where this event happened. This proud group of mostly former English settlers had a charter (written rule) that said this day was to be observed yearly as a thanksgiving to God, to thank Him for the safe arrival of ships too. For 3 years they celebrated until fatally in1622, in what we call "the Indian Massacre of 1622" many of the settlers (347 in all) were killed by the natives in that area. AS Jamestown itself was the stronghold city, many people abandoned Charles Cittee outright for the safety of the same Jamestown about 20 miles away. This is probably the main reason why the Plymouth Rock Pilgrims in 1621 have the dubious distinction of being the ones credited with the holidays arrival to the new world. IN a place called the "Plymouth Plantation" they gave thanks to God for a truly bountiful harvest and for surviving a really brutal winter. Amazing what started as a religious observance of thanks here too has become so secular and commercial today. The first 3 Days fiesta had 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans attending according to William Bradford's account, they served everyone foul (turkey, hen) fish, venison, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, and pumpkin and squash. He goes on to say "besides waterfowl we observed a great store of wild turkeys of which many were taken". Its here obviously that the turkey and Thanksgiving got their roots for which I personally will be eternally grateful.

The Plantation of Plymouth 1621

LET's look at the Differences shall we?

AS we have seen many things are associated with both countries, but there are also some noticeable differences. (1) In Canada we celebrate the day the second Monday of October every year while in the USA they celebrate it on the fourth Thursday of November, BUT notice that the American Columbus Day (celebrating the discovery of the New World) takes place in October, this year, the same day as Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving. Are you confused yet? (2) In Canada the Canadian FEDERAL Government on January 31st.1957 passed a Law that says "this Thanksgiving Day shall be a HOLY day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the most bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed." Unfortunately it isn't observed that closely. In the USA the day is typically a holiday first, then depending on what group is celebrating a religious observance. (3) Have you ever wondered why Canada celebrates earlier in the year than the USA? Its simple we being NORTH of our friends in the USA have a shorter growing season as a rule and the frost comes much earlier too. People born after 1990 might beg to differ here because of the strange weather phenomenons of today, but it was a fact, when the holiday or if you prefer Holy Day was begun, in both countries. (4) While Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day, the USA their Columbus day, the rest of Latin America is celebrating "Dia de la Raza" at the same time. (5) In Canada we get to enjoy a lot of extra football with the "Thanksgiving double header" 4 teams of the 8 available alternate every year to play on this date. And of course there are various local parades while in the States by their Thanksgiving one of the biggest parades the Macy's Parade takes place too, but in scope is far bigger than their Canadian counterparts. (6) Potatoes were first picked and planted in Canada while the turkey comes from the good old US of A,

Although today you would be hard pressed to really tell them apart we have come to see we do have a lot in common in the observance of our respective Thanksgivings (never mind Columbus Day OYE) no matter which country, province, state, city, or berg your in have a good one when the day does arrive. TO all my American friends Happy Columbus day and to my fellow Canucks (no not the hockey team either) I say::

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      This is a great analysis of the differences in Thanksgiving celebrations. Football and turkey seem to be the occupations of choice. I bet the natives were celebrating way before the Europeans showed up.

    • Powerful Pierre profile image

      Powerful Pierre 7 years ago from Abbotsford BC

      always glad to put out useful info at this end nice to meet you

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 7 years ago

      good information I didn't know til now.;)

    • Powerful Pierre profile image

      Powerful Pierre 7 years ago from Abbotsford BC

      Enjoy your turkey like my pic I m having ham LOL Happy Thanksgiving hope your not a fan of Penn State

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Very well done. Great information. Enjoyed it very much. Thumb's up & awesome. And later today, I will be celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. A big dead bird will be in the oven soon. :>)

    • Powerful Pierre profile image

      Powerful Pierre 7 years ago from Abbotsford BC

      TY very much Quill you always have nice words GBU

    • profile image

      "Quill" 7 years ago

      Informative indeed and answers many questions of the reason why we need to be the first. Love the American celebration as it is a time for real family gathers and festivity.