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Brody McDonald

Thanksgiving: A Truly Canadian Affair

It was probably the small mountain of mashed potatoes that did me in, or perhaps the overly-generous portion of turkey I had scarfed down at dinner. Whatever it was, my metabolism had now slowed to a crawl and I felt powerfully compelled to do nothing but recline by the fireplace and reflect on the holiday for which I owed such a calorie-rich feast. Thanksgiving, in the most literal sense of the word, is not a holiday at all. A holiday or holy day, like Easter, Eid al-Fitr, or Yom Kippur is, etymologically speaking, a day which is holy or sacred to the doctrine or traditions of a particular faith. But Thanksgiving doesn't quite fit that mould. In fact, Thanksgiving is not defined by ritual or religious practice of any kind and is more akin to a secular day of rest and gratefulness. In fairness, Thanksgiving is not entirely irreligious in its inception. Though distinct from its American counterpart, Canadian Thanksgiving was also popularized by European settlers who were undoubtedly devout believers. In 1873, the Canadian Parliament went so far as to proclaim that the holiday was "a day of general Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed." There is little question that the 'Almighty God' to whom these early Parliamentarians referred was Jesus Christ. But today Thanksgiving is largely seen as a universal holiday, open to Canadians of all faiths and backgrounds. As I pushed through a busy supermarket in our Nation’s capital this past weekend, I was struck by the multicultural appeal of Thanksgiving. I watched as families of Arab-Canadian, Chinese-Canadian and Indo-Canadian descent all clambered to pick out the perfect Turkey for their dinners. The wide scale adoption of Thanksgiving among newcomers to Canada speaks volumes about the allure of the… Read More