It’s no secret that I love to cook. That my favorite holiday would be Thanksgiving isn’t much of a stretch. I tend to focus on the food aspects of the holiday. Sometimes I try to look past the gravy boat, and see what there is to the holiday. This year I asked some friends to talk about what the holiday means for them. I am very thankful they agreed to do so. ~Faye
“Living next to the United States is a little like sleeping with an elephant. You always wonder if they will roll over on you.” – Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minster of Canada
The American elephant definitely does some trumpeting about its Thanksgiving celebrations! From airports to football to shopping, the Canadian mouse knows how its neighbour (that’s right, there’s a ‘u’ in that word!) celebrates the holiday. But what about the Canadian version?
Well, Canadian Thanksgiving comes first, in the history books and on the calendar. Martin Frobisher, Newfoundland, 1578. Take that, 1621 Pilgrims. And modern Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October, a month and a half before the American version. I’ve got to say, mid-October seems like a more reasonable time for a harvest festival. Sure, there’s parts of the U.S. that are a lot warmer than Canada, but even there, what is being harvested in late November?!?
Maybe the later date accounts for the shopping frenzy of the Americans, too, since the holiday is so close to Christmas. We don’t really have that in Canada. Thanksgiving is more about the food and the family, less about the shopping.
I think there’s a bit of a ‘celebrate nature’ tradition in Canada, as well – a lot of families go for hikes in the afternoon of T-giving day, either burning off the big meal or building up an appetite, for those who eat later in the day. And most Canadians who are lucky enough to have cottages spend T-giving there, one last visit before closing the place up for the winter.
Also, we don’t put marshmallows on our sweet potatoes. That’s just weird.
Overall, though? Thanksgiving is definitely a holiday about family, just like it is in the States. My favourite Thanksgiving movie is American: Home for the Holidays, with Holly Hunter trying to deal with her impossible, exasperating, much-loved family.
I’m writing this a few days after Canadian Thanksgiving at my parents’ cottage, which featured kids screaming about new insults and adults still stewing about old ones. But it also had a lot of laughter, tender moments, and reconnecting with the people who’ve known us longest and in some ways still know us best. I’m glad we have Thanksgiving as an occasion to get together and catch up. I’m also glad it only happens once a year!
So, elephant or mouse, Thanksgiving really is about family, either the one you were born into or the one you’ve created. I think that’s something worth celebrating, on either side of the border.
Kate Sherwood‘s website can be found here.