Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanksgiving history

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For other uses, see Thanksgiving (disambiguation).

Thanksgiving Day

Observed by Canada, United States

Type National

Date 2nd Monday in October (Canada)
4th Thursday in November (U.S.)
2010 date October 11, 2010 (Canada);
November 25, 2010 (U.S.)
2011 date October 10, 2011 (Canada);
November 24, 2011 (U.S.)

Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in the United States, Canada and increasingly so in Australia. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. While perhaps religious in origin, Thanksgiving is now primarily identified as a secular holiday.[1]


The date and location of the first Thanksgiving celebration is a topic of modest contention.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher's Thanksgiving was not for harvest but homecoming. He had safely returned from a search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey.[2] French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 1600s also took to celebrating their successful harvests. They even shared their food with the indigenous people of the area as well as setting up what became known as the "Order of Good Cheer."[3] As many more settlers arrived in Canada, more celebrations of good harvest became common. New immigrants into the country, such as the Irish, Scottish, Germans would also add their own harvest traditions to the harvest celebrations. Most of the American aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey) were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.[3]

The traditional origin point for Thanksgiving in the United States is the celebration that occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621. The Plymouth celebration occurred early in the history of what would become one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States. This Thanksgiving, modeled after celebrations that were commonplace in contemporary Europe, is generally regarded as America's first. Author and teacher Robyn Gioia and Michael Gannon of the University of Florida have argued that the earliest attested "thanksgiving" celebration in what is now the United States was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8, 1565 in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida.[4][5] According to historian Jeremy Bangs, director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, there may have been an influence of the annual services of thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in 1574, which the Pilgrims witnessed during their stay in Leiden.[6]

Thanksgiving in Canada did not have a fixed date until the late 19th Century, when it was typically held on November 6th. After the end of World War I, Thanksgiving Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies were usually held during the same week. To avoid the two holidays from clashing with one another, in 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed Thanksgiving to be observed on it's present date.[3] Thanksgiving in the United States had typically been observed on different dates throughout history; by the beginning of the 20th century, the final Thursday in November had become the standard day of Thanksgiving in most U.S. states. It would not be until December 26th, 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after pushing to move the date earlier to give the country an economic boost, signed a bill into law making Thanksgiving a national holiday fixed to its current date.[7] Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and on the second Monday of October in Canada.


Main article: Thanksgiving (Canada)
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day (Canadian French: Jour de l'Action de grĂ¢ce), occurring on the second Monday in October, is an annual Canadian holiday to give thanks at the close of the harvest season. Although the original act of Parliament references God and the holiday is celebrated in churches, the holiday is also celebrated in a secular manner.
In Grenada there is a national holiday known as Thanksgiving Day celebrated on October 25th. Even though it bears the same name, and is celebrated around the same time as the American and Canadian versions of Thanksgiving, it is unrelated with either. Instead the holiday marks the anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of the island in 1983 in response to the deposition and execution of Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.[8]
Many of the Pilgrims who would end up at the Plymouth Plantation had resided in the city of Leiden from 1609-1620, many of whom had recorded their birth, marriages and deaths at the Pieterskerk church.[9] To commemorate this, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day service is held each year on the morning of the American Thanksgiving Day in the Pieterskerk, a Gothic church in Leiden, to commemorate the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World.[10]
United States
Main article: Thanksgiving (United States)
Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. Thanksgiving was historically a religious observation to give thanks to God.[1]
Thanksgiving Day in Australia, celebrated on the 29th of May is increasingly becoming an annual tradition by the younger Middle to Upper Class in Australia. The day is dedicated to saying "thanks" to current and former Australian troops for serving Australia and is also to pledge thanks giving to the God.

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