Happy Thanksgiving!

If you live in Canada, then you know what today is: Thanksgiving!

The other day I decided to look up the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving, since most of our Thanksgiving imagery is pretty inundated with pilgrims and Native Americans, and while I’ve always known that’s not what my Thanksgiving was all about, I was never quite sure where it began.

Thanksgiving originated in 1957, when the government made the following declaration:

A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed – to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.

The specific religious affiliation of that declaration aside, isn’t that one of the most positive things you’ve ever heard come out of legislature? A day of general thanksgiving – how wonderful.

There are a few historical events that contribute to the declaration of this day of thanks:

In 1578 Martin Frobisher attempted to traverse the Northwest Passage and set up a colony in what is now Nunavut. A very unfortunate series of incidents lead to them losing one of the ships an much of the building supplies before the remaining 14 ships separated and got lost. When they found each other again, they had a special meal and communion, giving thanks for their “strange and miraculous deliverance” to come together once again.

By 1604 when French settlers had landed on what is now Canadian soil, an annual feast of thanks was such a regular thing that the men had formed an Order of Good Cheer, and they were glad to share their meal with the First Nations of the region.

Then of course, it is a long-standing tradition among many First Nations group to have celebrations at the end of harvest to give thanks for their bounty.

So it turns out celebrations of gratitude have been a part of our society’s practice for hundreds of years, both among the “pilgrims” and the First Nations they encountered here in North America.

Let’s all give thanks!