As Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, we have one thing to thank our American neighbours for: turkey dinner! It was Americans who remained loyal to England during the American Revolution who moved to Canada and brought their traditions with them. In particular, Thanksgiving was the time for turkey and pumpkin pie. For that we are grateful; but our Canadian Thanksgiving is not simply a Northern equivalent of Southern cooking.

Ours is the early thanksgiving. Earlier in the year and earlier in origin. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims settling in the new world, the Canadian tradition began nearly half a century before there were any Pilgrim Fathers or turkey dinners. An English explorer, Martin Frobisher, had been trying to find a northern passage. He failed in that, but did succeed in establishing a settlement in what is now Newfoundland. It was there that the first formal celebration of Thanksgiving took place in 1578. He introduced the European tradition of thanksgiving associated with God's provision. French settlers arriving with explorers Samuel de Champlain around the same time brought the same focus, holding huge feasts of thanksgiving. Thankfulness centered on the harvest, as was widely celebrated in Europe.

This harvest focus explains why the Canadian thanksgiving is not only earlier in origin but earlier in the year. Thanksgiving comes early in Canada because the harvest season is earlier north of the 49th parallel. It was first declared, in 1879, a national holiday to be held on November 6. But that proved too late, and eventually, with another holiday focusing on Remembrance Day also it November, it was brought forward in the calendar.

So finally, on 31 January 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. 

And so, as we cook our breakfast eggs, we think about where they come from. The rural Canadians will be tempted to think that eggs come from chicken and the urban Canadians are in danger of thinking that eggs come from the grocery store. But thankfully our Parliamentarians have rightly reminded us that the eggs come from the Lord. To paraphrase Psalm 121:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills - where do my eggs come from? My eggs come from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth.

It is to Him that we give thanks for every expression of the bountiful harvest with which He has blessed us.

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