What Is Thanksgiving?

How It All Started 

Where does the tradition of Thanksgiving come from? In fact, all over the world, we celebrate this harvest season. Dates and customs, however, differ from country to country.

She is on everyone’s lips and it is with enthusiasm that everyone prepares to celebrate it with dignity during the last long weekend of the year.  In the event that Thanksgiving evokes for many family feasts, it marks a very beautiful ancestral tradition that has evolved tremendously.

Thanksgiving was established as a holiday, the last of the year before the Christmas and New Years holidays, to thank God for the abundance of harvest and, by extension, the happiness received during the past year. Thanksgiving, in North America, is on everyone’s mind every fourth week of November. Individuals within large families such as families of Brad Roemer will sit around a huge table to give thanks for all that was accomplished during the year.

A Religious Tradition From Europe

The origins of Thanksgiving in North America are usually traced back to a dinner held in 1578 by English explorer Martin Frobisher, who wanted to thank God for a successful journey and for a great health. This supper was thus strongly inspired by the harvest festivals celebrated by the European peasants.

But the tradition of Thanksgiving then takes very different paths in Canada and the United States, where the symbolism of Thanksgiving, imported by the Mayflower Pilgrim Fathers, had significant and influential values that of the first harvest, in 1621, and therefore that of the survival of the young colony. Another difference: Thanksgiving is celebrated later in the United States in comparison to its Canadian friends across the border.

Canadian Thanksgiving does not claim such historical roots and is more borrowed, in its present form, than that of its American neighbor. Thus, even though it is widely celebrated today, especially among Anglophones, it remains less rooted in popular Canadian and Quebec traditions.

Thanksgiving and Sharing

Thanksgiving is now a pretext for great meetings with family and friends, around iconic dishes – and this time well and truly pan-North American. Traditionally, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce are served. Unlike Christmas, we also find autumn vegetables such as carrots and squash, as well as the famous pumpkin pie. The American Pilgrim Fathers had even invited a hundred representatives of the Wampanoag indigenous tribe to thank them for their help in sowing and harvesting corn.

A Cultural Phenomenon
These customs and their original meaning sometimes tend to fade, over the years, to give way to new traditions, again very different in Canada and the United States.

The long 3 day weekend that is during the last days of the year, marks the occasion, for some to go and enjoy a breath of fresh air. Hiking in the mountains, visiting the chalet and key fields are all opportunities to take off and nurture the secret hope of observing the colors of autumn appear on the trees.

In the United States, the issues have moved on a very different terrain. One month before Christmas, the highly anticipated Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which frame Thanksgiving, keep the country in suspense.

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