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Thanksgiving

Festivals | 6-12 yrs | Interactive

History and Custom

Thanksgiving is a North American holiday celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada while in the United States it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving was made a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 during the civil war. This festival is a mix of European and North American traditions. In many cultures people celebrate the beginning and end of the harvest season with thanks and feasting.

Thanksgiving was celebrated by communities all across the early settlements of the North American east coast from as early as 1621. The story of the ‘First Thanksgiving’ says that Squanto, a Patuxet Native American residing with the Wampanoag tribe taught early settlers at Plymouth colony to grow maize and fish for eel. It is also said that since Squanto knew how to speak English, which he learnt on his travels as a slave through Europe, he helped the settlers get additional supplies from the Wampanoag chief. This got them through their first winter in this new land.

Turkey, either baked or roasted, plays a central role in the traditional American thanksgiving dinner. It is generally the central dish served while stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potato, various fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie are all served as well.

This holiday is a time for family where people travel long distances to share in this one meal with their loved ones. Many food drives are organised in time for Thanksgiving and much effort is taken to provide food for the less fortunate.

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What can you find out about Thanksgiving traditions in Canada? How do they celebrate it? Why is it on a different day than the United States?

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