Here’s a little bit of fun and “Did you know?” trivia about Canadian Thanksgiving
1. How did Canadian Thanksgiving begin?
In 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher arrived in Newfoundland and wanted to celebrate his safe arrival in his journey from Europe to Asia. It wasn’t until 1879 that it was declared a national holiday, and it wasn’t until 1957 that its October date was set.
2. When is the Canadian Thanksgiving held?
The 2nd Monday in October (it has coincided with Columbus Day in the US since 1971). A proclamation was issued that stated it was to be “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”
3. Why is it earlier than the American Thanksgiving?
Our harvest season is earlier in Canada, as we get colder sooner.
4. For our American Friends: Unlike with the American Thanksgiving, Canadians do NOT have “Black Friday”, but we do have “Boxing Day” which is held the day after Christmas.
5. How did “Breaking the Wishbone” start?
The ancient Romans used to pull apart chicken bones hoping for good fortune. The English picked it up in the 16th century, where it was referred to as “merrythought.” In the New World, Pilgrims played tug-of-war with the bones of wild turkeys. The term “wishbone” didn’t emerge until the 1800’s. Each person grabs an end and pulls it apart. It is believed that if you get the bigger piece, your wish will be granted.
6. Canadian Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday EXCEPT in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador in which it is an optional holiday.
7. Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and not some other bird?
The birds are large enough that they can feed a table full of hungry family members rather than a chicken. Plus, chicken and cows were considered much more valuable to keep around for their eggs and milk. They were highly regarded back when the Thanksgiving tradition first began.
By the way, wild turkeys can fly, unlike domestic turkeys. They can also run up to 20 miles an hour. We eat domestic turkeys which have been bred for their size and speed of growth to the point where they now cannot fly, walk normally or even breed on their own.
8. From 1921 to 1930, Thanksgiving was combined with Armistice Day (now Remembrance Day), which was observed on the Monday of the week of November 11.
9. Why does turkey make you sleepy?
Turkey contains tryptophan, which is a naturally occurring amino acid that is used by the human body to make the neurotransmitter serotonin (the “feel-good chemical”). Studies have shown that serotonin promotes slow-wave sleep in non-human and humans alike. However, did you know that there are other foods that contain more tryptophan than turkey? These are spinach, soy, eggs, cheddar cheese, fish, watercress, and tofu. So then why do we get so sleepy after we eat turkey? Well combine the carbs (desserts!), fat, and consumption of alcohol being consumed in large quantities on Thanksgiving, and your body will be using up a lot of energy to try to digest your food. Reduced blood flow in the body means reduced energy.
10. The American Thanksgiving long weekend runs from Thursday to Sunday, whereas the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend runs from Saturday to Monday.
Americans celebrate it on the fourth Thursday in November — so they essentially get a four-day weekend versus our three-day weekend.
Celebrate your Canadian Thanksgiving in Niagara Falls! Coming from Toronto? The GO Train has trains running all weekend for the occasion from Toronto to Niagara and back!
Click here for the schedule.