Happy Thanksgiving … Joyeux Action de Grâce … Redux 2022

I first wrote this post in 2017 about Thanksgiving in Canada, and have reprised it every year since, with the exception of last year.  Why re-invent the wheel, right?  At any rate, I would like to wish all of my Canadian friends a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Save me some leftovers, okay?

🇨🇦 Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

I just realized, after a comment by friend Emily (Eschudel of Zombie Flamingoes) that today is Thanksgiving … in Canada!  Action de grâce!

Now, for those outside Canada, I thought I would look a bit into the history of Canada’s Thanksgiving.  We all know the lovely little story about the pilgrims and the natives and the first Thanksgiving in the U.S., which is basically a myth, but whatever.  So, I wondered if Canada has such a feel-good story too.  Well, turns out it’s confusing, but … let me tell you what I found, and then perhaps some of our Canadian friends will either correct me, or fill in the gaps.

According to Wikipedia …

“Thanksgiving is an annual Canadian holiday, occurring on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year.

According to some historians, the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America occurred during the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England, in search of the Northwest Passage.

Years later, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, from 1604, also held feasts of thanks. They even formed the Order of Good Cheer and held feasts with their First Nations neighbors, at which food was shared.

After the Seven Years’ War ended in 1763, with New France handed over to the British, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but did not occur every year.

During and after the American Revolution, American refugees who remained loyal to Great Britain moved from the newly independent United States to Canada. They brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada, such as the turkey, pumpkin, and squash.

The first Thanksgiving Day after Canadian Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

For many years before it was declared a national holiday in 1879, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November. From 1879 onward, Thanksgiving Day has been observed every year.”

But then, I found an article in The Star (Toronto) that I think is more likely to be authentic …

“In the case of Thanksgiving Day, the critical actors were a group of Protestant clergymen in what is now Ontario. In 1859, these men petitioned the Canadian colonial government to declare a mid-week day of thanksgiving in recognition of the harvest. The government agreed to the ministers’ request, and it would do so again four more times before 1866, and annually beginning in 1871.

Protestant leaders had dual motives in lobbying for an autumn holiday. First, they wanted to reassure Canadian Christians, whose faith had been shaken by the publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1859.

Second, they felt obligated to mould Canadian identity in light of the prospect — and after 1867, the reality — of Confederation. To clergymen, an abundant harvest provided proof of God’s hand in nature, and evidence that Canadians were a chosen people. As such, a holiday that celebrated the harvest would give them the opportunity to remind Canadians of both their material prosperity and their divine national destiny.

Initially, Canadian Thanksgiving was a solemn and pious occasion compared to its American namesake. All businesses closed for the day, and church services were the only activities of note. Ministers delivered sermons that blended nationalism with religious dogma. Against the backdrop of the American Civil War, they hailed the superiority of British political institutions and praised Canada (incorrectly) for having avoided the evils of slavery.

Overall, their Thanksgiving sermons celebrated Canada for being a white, British, Protestant country — a perspective that pointedly ignored the presence of French Canadians, Catholics, Indigenous people, and non-British immigrants.

In time, however, the Protestant conception of Thanksgiving Day, and the narrow definition of Canadian identity that it promoted, gave way to other influences. From the 1870s onwards, holiday church services lost ground to secular community events and commercial amusements.

Meanwhile, Canadians began adopting American Thanksgiving traditions, such as family gatherings, turkey dinners, and football games. Such activities enabled previously excluded groups to stake their own claims to Thanksgiving, and by extension, to Canadian citizenship.

By 1957, when the government permanently fixed the timing of Thanksgiving Day, the holiday’s domestic focus was firmly established. While many Canadians used the occasion to close their summer cottages for the season, others devoted the day to family get-togethers and turkey dinners.

Today, Canadian Thanksgiving shows few hints of its religious and nationalist beginnings.”

Interesting … things are rarely as they seem on first glance, and it is always fun to delve into the traditions and history of other nations.  At any rate, I wish all my Canadian friends & readers a very Happy Thanksgiving … Joyeux Action de grâce. You have one very obvious thing to be thankful for:  that you have Justin Trudeau instead of Donald Trump! I hope you were all able to celebrate with loved ones, much laughter and good food.


23 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving … Joyeux Action de Grâce … Redux 2022

  1. Every time I’d be in the company of family members saying grace, and especially so at Thanksgiving Day dinner, I’d endure guilt-tainted bewilderment at the theological concept behind the societal institution of giving thanks to God for our food.

    With all due sincere respect, I cannot but reluctantly find that by saying grace—because of the bitter reality of Earthly starvation—we, the well-fed, are in effect concluding that the Divine has found one portion of this planet’s populace worthy of nourishment while allowing another to starve.

    Thus, the following rhyme is dedicated to the countless worldwide for whom there is/was naught to be thankful on our Thanksgiving Day—nor any other day, for that matter. …

    Pass me the holiday turkey, peas
    and the delicious stuffing flanked
    by buttered potatoes with gravy
    since I’ve said grace with plenty ease,
    for the good food received I’ve thanked
    my Maker who’s found me worthy.
    It seems that unlike the many of those
    in the unlucky Third World nation,
    I’ve been found by God deserving
    to not have to endure the awful woes
    and the stomach wrenching starvation
    suffered by them with no dinner serving.
    So please hand to me the succulent corn
    the cranberry sauce, fresh baked bread
    since for my grub I’ve praised the Lord,
    yet I need not hear about those born
    whose meal I’ve been granted instead,
    as they receive naught of the grand hoard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing our Thanksgiving here Jill. I think our Toronto Star has it right. And it falls on Monday (today) but most people celebrate it Sunday. Monday, most places are closed. Also, I loved your comparison of Trudeau and sir liesalot. Just know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, our own Thanksgiving has done a similar morph from a pious holiday into one that centers around … food! Food, family, more food, leftovers, and … Christmas shopping! Ha ha … I should have taken that out, since sir liesalot is no longer in office, but I didn’t catch that part! Still, it is true. Trudeau is, in my view, what a leader should be, whereas Trump never was and never will be. I know you guys have your problems too, but I still think the grass is a bit greener further north! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: HAPPY THANKSGIVING … JOYEUX ACTION DE GRACE … REDUX 2022. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  4. Thanks Jill. Technically Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, but most celebrate today so they can all get together for a family gathering because, as you know, some people will have to work tomorrow. My daughter-in-law works in the US so it is not a day off for her, so she took a vacation day to spend time with her kids, who will be home from school. We do celebrate pretty much all weekend, as I spent yesterday with my sister and her family yesterday. Today I will relax as tomorrow my son and his family will be her most of the day. We will close the pool (always a Thanksgiving job) and have a wonderful dinner of turkey and ham with all the trimmings. We are not a big football family so won’t watch the game (Canadian Football). I learned something from your post today, as I didn’t really know how it all started, but being a Presbyterian (Protestant) I am embarrassed and ashamed to acknowledge how we treated other people in the past, especially in the guise of being thankful.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Carla! I always enjoy hearing more about your holidays! I hope you had and are having a wonderful celebration with your family … and save me a bit of the turkey and trimmings!!! My mouth is watering already! Yes, both of our nations have some things in our history that we are ashamed of, but I think the important thing is that we do everything possible to make sure those things never happen again. Another Canadian friend, rawgod, noted the recently celebrated National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day of remembrance and hopefully commitment to a better future. Here in the U.S., some states are going in the opposite direction, trying to whitewash our history of abusing Indigenous People, Blacks, and others for centuries. I think we need to teach our future generations about these things in order to ensure they NEVER happen again. Sigh. Anyway … Happy Thanksgiving!!!

      Liked by 4 people

      • I totally agree, Jill. We can’t hide it or make it go away just because we say it didn’t happen. I am glad Canada has moved toward Reconciliation. It is a National Day, not province by province. Turkey tomorrow, will be yummy. I will send some to you virtually.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’m glad too! It’s important for us to remember the mistakes of the past, to learn from them, to keep them in our collective memories not for castigation, but for insurance that we don’t repeat the mistakes over and over, as humans sometimes tend to do. Oh YES!!! I can smell that turkey already … my mouth is watering and I will be eagerly awaiting it! Thanks, my friend!

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  5. Usually I have a story, but this time I don’t. Holidays don’t interest me anymore, except the very new and just celebrated National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Sept 30 annually). But even in only its 2nd year of celebration already commercial retailers are trying to coopt it. Copies of First Nations art and artifacts were being sold to people who know little about the meaning or place of said items in First Nations chlture.
    But at least it is a day for learning about colonialism and Residential Schools. I can only imagine what people like Governors QAbbott and DuhSantis would say if they had to celebrate it: It never happened! Attempted genocide is nothing to feel guilty for. (Watching Jason Kenney try to do a drum dance was hilarious. The man has no rhythm. Or honest intention!)
    No one wants anyone today to feel guilty about it. All we want is to have it acknowledged, and remembered so that it never happens again — anywhere!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Sigh. That people are trying to profit from a day set aside for such a tragic commemoration is no surprise. Those for whom wealth is their goal in life have no morals, no values, no compassion and no humanity. It is a worthy holiday indeed, marking the tragedy of many lost lives. However, I still think other holidays have value to those who celebrate them. While we must remember and never forget what was done to the Indigenous Children in those residential schools, that doesn’t mean we cannot take joy in other things. Balance, my friend.


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