What you may not know about Canadian Thanksgiving

November 3, 2015

You know Thanksgiving as the holiday celebrated with a big dinner with family and friends to give thanks for an abundant harvest, with turkey usually the centrepiece of the meal. Here are some lesser-known facts about Thanksgiving in Canada.

What you may not know about Canadian Thanksgiving

7 Little-known facts about Canadian Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October, the same day as Columbus Day in the United States. It's very different from American Thanksgiving, which celebrates a different occasion on the last Thursday in November. Here's what you may not know about the Canadian holiday:

  1. Why cranberries? The Algonquins were the first people to harvest wild cranberries. They used them for many purposes, including food and medicine. The cranberries also were a sign of peace, which is why they are a traditional part of a holiday dinner.
  2. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie is a tradition at many Thanksgiving dinner tables, but it didn't become so until the early 19th century, historians believe. In addition to being delicious, it has some historical significance.
  3. Origins of the wishbone tradition. The wishbone tradition dates all the way back to 322 B.C. when the Etruscans began breaking it after meals. Then the Romans took the tradition with them to England, and it was carried on to North America after that.
  4. The Thanksgiving Day parade. The biggest and most popular Thanksgiving Day Parade in Canada is the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest parade. It has been celebrated since 1969 and originally honoured the area's strong German roots and Bavarian culture.
  5. How much turkey do Canadians eat? Canadians purchase an average of three million turkeys for Thanksgiving each year. That accounts for about one-third of all turkeys bought in Canada in a given year.
  6. When did the holiday begin? Thanksgiving was celebrated for the first time in Canada in 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher threw a celebratory feast in Newfoundland to commemorate his safe arrival to North America.
  7. Why celebrate? The original dinner thrown by Martin Frobisher came about because of the ancient festivities in Europe that were meant to celebrate the abundance of the fall harvest and to give thanks for having enough food to last all winter long. The tradition has been carried on into modern times and has become the Canadian Thanksgiving that we know and love today.
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