Monday, October 09, 2006

Our first Thanksgiving in Germany

Happy Thanksgiving
So this is our first autumn in Germany. We just moved to Munich this past July, and we'll be here for the next three years.

For those that don't know us, my hubby and I are Canadian. My husband is an engineering officer in the Canadian Forces. Canada doesn't have any bases in Germany anymore, but we do have positions at various NATO bases as well as a few exchange positions. My husband is serving as an exchange officer with the German military engineering school, the Pionierschule, in Munich.

We've spent the last 5 years in Ottawa, where hubby was posted prior to the posting to Munich, and I've lived most of my life in Ottawa. My parents, and my sister, her husband, and my niece, are all in Ottawa.

So this year is the first year since 2000 that we didn't spend Thanksgiving with my family. For all of my non-Canadian readers, I need to tell you that Thanksgiving Day in Canada takes place on second Monday in October.

Canadian Thanksgiving

In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada compared to the United States due to the simple fact that Canada is further north.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now called Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him - Frobisher Bay.

At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed 'The Order of Good Cheer' and gladly shared their food with their Indian neighbours.

After the Seven Year's War ended in 1763, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving.

During the American Revolution, Americans who remained loyal to England moved to Canada where they brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. There are many similarities between the two Thanksgivings such as the cornucopia and the pumpkin pie.

Eventually in 1879, Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular was the 3rd Monday in October. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.

Finally, on January 31st, 1957, Parliament proclaimed...
"A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ... to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October."
If you want to learn more about the traditions and history of Canadian Thanksgiving, you can check out Canadian Heritage.

1 comment:

yipeeladybug said...

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!