Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

Today was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. Some people emailed me and asked about our Thanksgiving Day customs. We celebrate it on the second Monday of October. Stores and businesses are closed on this day. It is a time to get together with family and friends and give thanks.

Here are some facts that you probably didn't know. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada in 1578. That's about 43 years earlier than the first Thanksgiving in the USA. An early explorer by the name of Martin Frobisher tried to find a route to the Orient by going north to the Arctic Ocean. He never did find it and returned to what is now Newfoundland. Frobisher Bay is named after him. Because he was so relieved that he and his crew had survived their journey, he decided to celebrate. Hence the first Thanksgiving. The indigenous peoples in our area had already been giving thanks to the gods for the food they were able to hunt, fish and grow. So they joined in with Frobisher in a huge celebration in 1578.

The food that they ate at the first Thanksgiving was different from what we eat today. They had pumpkins, sweet potatoes and anything that they could hunt and fish. Corn was probably not eaten on the cob, but ground into cornmeal to make bread. Regular potatoes had not reached the New World yet. They were still being experimented on by botanists in Europe. The potato is a member of the nightshade family and was probably viewed with caution. The odd wild turkey may have been eaten, but it was not officially a Thanksgiving food. Today turkeys are the most common meat at a Thanksgiving dinner. We also eat ham and as I told you yesterday, a roast is okay too. Anything goes, really. For dessert the early settlers probably did not eat pies, but they did eat cooked pumpkin.

The customs and traditions of the early Thanksgiving celebrations in the States got combined with Canadian celebrations when the United Empire Loyalists came to Canada. Now our Thanksgiving is not very different from the way Thanksgiving is celebrated in the States. Their celebration takes place on the third Thursday in November. There is one thing though, that I have never eaten here and that is sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. I hear that is a traditional food for Americans. I threatened to make it this year, but I didn't know where to start. So if anyone can help me, let me know.

We took a leisurely drive just north of Toronto this afternoon. The photos on this post are from that drive. The sky was blue and the trees were beautiful shades of reds, yellows and oranges. This little tree was growing at the side of the road. It's an oak. I was amazed at the bright orange colours on this one. Usually oaks turn yellow and brown. But all the oaks I saw today were this wonderful colour. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

If you ate today, thank a farmer!


wackywoman said...

Thanks Hetty,

Don't bother with the sweet potatoes and marshmellows. They really aren't that good.


Rose Marie said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! We're going to have our big dinner next weekend as company (from out-of-town) is coming then.

CaraQuilts said...

Love it!! And the picture of the pumpkins, one of my favorite fall sights.

Barb said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you!!! Loved the info you provided.

W. Latane Barton said...

Thanks for the lesson on Thanksgiving Day in Canada.

I have a couple recipes for the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top but any sweet potato casserole would work fine. After it baked just sprinkle the top of the potatoes with miniature marshmallows and put under broiler until toasted.

nicolette said...

Thanks Hetty, I loved to read about the origin of Canadian Thanksgiving and to watch your lovely pictures!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Annemariesquilt said...

Thanks for the story , I enjoyed it!!! The little tree is so beautiful .

The Calico Cat said...

I am not a fan of the sweet potatoes & marshmallows, but if that floats your boat, broils them until just browned - too long under the broiler & they burn & melt away into the casserole.

I generally serve mine plain - they are sweet enough on their own.

Cybele's patch said...

Thank you for this interesting post Hetty. I had no idea Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada. Sounds like you and your family had a perfect day.