Thanksgiving in Canada is much earlier than Thanksgiving for our friends in the US. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Thanksgiving in the United States is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. In both countries, Thanksgiving is a harvest festival celebrated in the fall after all the wonderful foods that have been harvested from the fields and trees and bushes have been gathered. Can you think of some of your favourite foods that are gathered and eaten during the Thanksgiving celebration?
Do you know in what year the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving in America?
The Pilgrims starting coming to America in the 1600's. They arrived at Plymouth by boat and from England. I would imagine it was a pretty rough trip across the Atlantic with days of blue skies as well as many stormy days with rough water and huge waves. I'm sure they were very thankful when they finally saw land and were able to get off their boat and touch land again.
The Pilgrims sometimes had Days of Fasting and then on other days they had Days of Thanksgiving. Do you think they had fasting days because they had a shortage of food? Another name they used for their thanksgiving day was Harvest festival. This was when the crops of fruit, grains and vegetables were brought in from the fields at the end of summer and fall when the harvest was over.Then they were very thankful that they had plenty of food to eat and wanted to give thanks for their bountiful harvest.
William Bradford, in Of Plymouth Plantation wrote: (Brandford of Plymouth Plantation p.90)
They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.
In Canada, Thanksgiving traditions are similar to those first celebrated in Europe.
For centuries, people in some European countries held festivals, dances and church services in September and October to give thanks for the bountiful crops. Friends and families gathered to drink the wine, eat juicy turkeys and yummy pies while they talked and danced and sang. They gave thanks for all the fruits and vegetables that had been gathered so that they could survive another winter.
The first Thanksgiving in North America was celebrated in Canada in 1578. An explorer named Martin Frobisher, who arrived in Newfoundland from England, was so happy to be on land again that he gave thanks for his safe arrival. This was the very first Thanksgiving in North American.
The Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the 1600's and this is when people first began to give thanks for the harvest in the United States.