Thanksgiving Holiday

This weekend, many QSoE students will have their first experience of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. When Thanksgiving was mentioned to some students, their first thoughts were of excitement for Black Friday, and the spectacular deals shoppers may find. However, Black Friday is a distinctly American phenomenon which coincides with Thanksgiving weekend in the United States. Although they celebrate the holiday in a very similar way, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the third Thursday in November. In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.

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Cornucopia or ‘Horn of Plenty’ – a symbol of abundance and nourishment associated with Thanksgiving Day

Canadians have been officially celebrating Thanksgiving Day since 1879, when Parliament proclaimed it as “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. The practice of having a special feast in thanks and celebration of the harvest at this time of the year has been a tradition of First Nations and Native American tribes, and of peasant societies in Europe for long before any records of Europeans holding formal harvest celebrations. One of the earliest recorded dates of such an organized celebration by European members of society dates to 1578 when explorers in the Arctic wrote of their harvest celebration during this time of the year!

In the United States, much of the origin of Thanksgiving Day as a holiday is attributed to the Pilgrims (early European settlers in Massachusetts) who celebrated their first harvest with a feast of freshly harvested North American foods. These foods likely included wild fowl (such as turkey, grouse, duck, or goose), indigenous berries and nuts, seafood, and foods which Native Americans were cultivating such as corn, potatoes, beans, peas, squash, and onions.

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Wild Turkeys

Today, both Canadians and Americans typically celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a day off of work/school, travelling to be with family and close friends, and honoring the blessings of their lives by sharing a feast including dishes such as a whole roasted turkey, squash, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin or apple pie. Roasting a turkey is something that is usually only done on Thanksgiving Day, though sometimes at Christmas or Easter as well. Although there are wild turkeys living in Ontario (which can be hunted and eaten), generally people buy domestically-raised turkeys from the grocery store, or from a local farmer.

We would love to hear about your experiences and see your photos of Thanksgiving Day celebrations! Email soe@queensu.ca to share.

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