Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

I'm thankful that...

by

comment

Monday is Thanksgiving. On some calendars, especially the ones printed for the U.S. market, it's called Canadian Thanksgiving. It seems preposterous to call it Canadian Thanksgiving in Canada though. Apologetic and subservient almost. I formally declare jihad on calling it Canadian Thanksgiving within the confines of Canada or, for that matter, in the company of other Canadians. If our friends from the U.S. can't get their head around that, imagine the difficulty they still must be having understanding things up here are priced in Canadian dollars, not Yankee greenbacks. Of course, we don't do ourselves any favours by accepting U.S. currency but then, it's our way, apologetic and subservient. Sorry about that.

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a celebration of bounty and successful harvest, on the second Monday in October. There are several good reasons for picking that date. Farmers, which is what most Canadians were when the whole Thanksgiving thing started, were smart enough to know if we celebrated it on, say, the second Tuesday in October, any crops still standing in the field would probably be frozen and who wants frozen food for Thanksgiving? Well, come to think of it, almost everyone except those effete foodies who buy fresh turkeys.

By contrast, the U.S. celebrates American Thanksgiving - Hah! How do you like the way that feels? - the last Thursday in November. The last Thursday in November coincides with harvest time in Havana. By then, most of the corn in Iowa is in cans and most Iowans are indoors saying things like, "It's colder than a Kansas school teacher's heart outside." I'll leave to your imagination what people in Kansas say.

It's pretty easy to keep the two Thanksgivings straight, even without the geographic modifiers. Thanksgiving in Canada? October, three weeks-ish before Halloween. Thanksgiving in the US? November, a month before Christmas. In most of Canada, it's the difference between wearing a baseball cap and a toque.

So why the confusion?

One of the primary reasons is, how shall I say this, the rich mythology of American Thanksgiving.

Americans got a head start on Canadians when it came to celebrating Thanksgiving. In what would someday become the U.S., the First Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. It involved Pilgrims, iconic, short people in early American history with unusual hats and shoes and a way of walking that reminded people of penguins, from which their name was derived. The Pilgrims didn't call that celebratory - and for many of them, lifesaving - meal the First Thanksgiving. They didn't call it Thanksgiving at all. They called it dinner. Actually, they called it a feast, but I digress.

Add a comment