At this time of year, it is safe to say that there are many things that Canadians are thankful for. Number one on the list, most likely, is the fact that they are not required to go to work today! It's Thanksgiving Day in Canada, a statutory holiday in all provinces and territories except New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, according to Wikipedia.
While the second Monday of every October is recognized as Thanksgiving Day in Canada as opposed to the fourth Thursday in November in the United States many Canadians sit down to a hardy Thanksgiving meal on either the Saturday or Sunday of their first fall long weekend. Some Canadians prefer to take the weekend off for a getaway to enjoy the new colours and crisp weather of the new autumn season.
Whatever one does on this weekend, he or she can be thankful for the long-standing traditions of First Nations groups in Canada who celebrated the harvest and gave thanks for their bountiful crops each year hundreds of years ago. Canada's First Nations, which included the Cree, Cherokee and Pueblo organized festivals and ceremonial dances in celebration and thanks many centuries before Europeans arrived in North America.
Martin Frobisher, an explorer who had the Atlantic Ocean's Frobisher Bay named after him, is credited with holding one of the first formal celebrations of Thanksgiving in 1578. Giving thanks for surviving his long journey through the Pacific Ocean, Frobisher held a feast in what eventually became Newfoundland and Labrador.
As the 1600's approached, explorer Samuel de Champlain and his French settlers began holding massive feasts of thanks as well. They eventually formed “The Order of Good Cheer” sharing their food with the First Nations during their celebrations.
Although there were numerous other occasions marking thanksgiving, it did not become a civic holiday in Canada until April 5, 1872 when the Prince of Wales recovered from a serious illness. Starting in 1879, Thanksgiving Day was observed annually with the date of celebration changing each year.
As Wikipedia writes, on January 31, 1957, the Canadian Parliament decreed: “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.”
So be thankful and enjoy your day Canada!