A brief history of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day comes from an ancient tradition of celebrating agricultural crops. There are already mentioned in the Old Testament, Hebrew festivals of crops ( Sukkot ) to thank Yahweh, the Creator of the world and “give thanks”.
This festival is also found in the Hellenic tradition, where it is dedicated to Ceres, the goddess of agriculture (the one who gave wheat to humanity).
No doubt, in Canada, Thanksgiving, the official holiday and the day off, is a holiday that has changed the date a lot of times.
This holiday was brought to Quebec (rather to Lower Canada ) by Quebecers of British origin, who emigrated from the United States in the late eighteenth century.
The first day of Thanksgiving was celebrated on January 10, 1799, “to mark the victory over our enemies and for the many and priceless graces our kingdoms and provinces have received and continue to receive each day” (the enemies, c were the French revolutionaries with their ideas to raise Quebec against the British Empire).
The second time, Thanksgiving was celebrated on Thursday, August 12, 1802, simply “for the divine graces”. After a long pause of 12 years ensues, however, in 1814, the Thanksgiving is celebrated twice: Thursday, April 21, 1814 “for the glorious victories over our enemies” – because of the war against the States United States , and Tuesday, September 13, 1814 “to mark the end of the bloody conflict in Europe and to ensure the benefits of peace for the king’s domains”.
Six months pass, and we celebrate again: Thursday, April 6, 1815, we celebrate “the end of the war with the United States and to bring back the benefits of peace.”
In the first half of the 19th century, Thanksgiving continued to be celebrated not on a fixed date, but to mark happy events:
in May 1816: the end of the war between Great Britain and France;
in February 1833: the end of the cholera epidemic;
November 1, 1834: the end of a quarantine imposed on the ships at Grosse-Île on the Magdalen Islands ;
in February 1838: Lower Canada celebrates the end of the Patriotic Rebellion ;
in June 1856: the restoration of peace with Russia after the Crimean War.
However, the return to the roots of the festival is every time more visible and we begin to celebrate Thanksgiving as a day of thanks to God for an abundant harvest and for peace in the country, with some exceptions: for example On April 15, 1872, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated to thank the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, for a serious illness, and in June 1887 it was the 50th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Victoria (but the same year, in November, we also celebrate an abundant harvest).
In the twentieth century, the formula changes to become more generalized: “to give thanks to the almighty God for the benefits enjoyed by the people of Canada”.
As early as 1879, Thanksgiving was celebrated each year, first on a Thursday in November, then, in 1899, on a Thursday in October, then between 1901 and 1904, again on a Thursday in November, thereafter, we always celebrate in October. Each time, the party is announced with a few months of anticipation and no one knows in advance which Monday or which Thursday will be chosen to celebrate.
In 1921, the Armistice Day Act prescribes that Thanksgiving Day will now be celebrated on the Monday of the week of November 11, but in 1931, the Canadian Parliament amends this Act and November 11 is proclaimed the Remembrance Day (this is the official name in French of the day marking the armistice).
Finally, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October, but it is in 1957 that the celebration of Thanksgiving Day is permanently set for the second Monday of October.
It should be noted that while Thanksgiving was borrowed from the Americans in Canada (as was the menu, which is mostly turkey), Canadian Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving should not be confused with Canada’s Thanksgiving. American that is celebrated in the United States a month later than in Canada for geographical reasons (the harvest takes place a month later in the United States).
Recall, that on November 11, 1620, the boat, the Mayflower led Puritan pilgrims to Virginia, a British colony in America, and after the first harvest of the following autumn, the settlers who survived the first year (half of them they died the first 12) commemorated their survival by a celebration of praise and thanksgiving to God.
Then, a first feast is held to give thanks to the Lord for this fertile land that ensures the survival of the group. This is the summary of “Thanksgiving”, celebrated every year in the United States on the last Thursday of November, a very popular holiday.
Note that in Quebec (and Canada) the Thanksgiving Day does not have the same magnitude as the neighbours to the South, nor the same content.
To note and to finish, in the United States, at this period are consumed approximately 40 million turkeys.