We have a double dose of holidays in North America today, with Canada celebrating Thanksgiving and the US “celebrating” Columbus Day. Luckily, we have a native from each land available to explain these holidays.
- Ruth Spencer:
It always irks me that people refer to Thanksgiving in the US as ‘Thanksgiving’ and thanksgiving in Canada as ‘Canadian Thanksgiving’ because if there’s any *true* thanksgiving, it’s in Canada. They invented the damn holiday FFS.
FACT: English navigator Martin Frobisher landed in Canada while trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. In 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now known as Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey— 43 years before the pilgrims gave thanks in America. BOOM!
Canadian thanksgiving has got all the best parts of American thanksgiving, without the drama. It’s a celebration of the harvest, plain and simple – no pilgrims, no patriotism and no marshmallows and mashed potatoes (ew).
The soul of thanksgiving is the food and the practical, sensible people of the North leave it at that. No “black friday” shopping mobs, no crazed passengers at airports, just people gathering, eating, drinking, occasionally fighting, around the table. It’s a holiday centered around a meal, and that’s enough for Canadians.
A traditional thanksgiving meal in Canada consists of: turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans and wine. Wine. Wine. Wine. Everyone gets the day off (the second Monday in October) and Celine Dion hands out free turkeys.
- Amanda Holpuch:
Meanwhile, in the US, it’s Columbus Day, one of our most contentious holidays – woo!
Columbus Day is meant to celebrate Christopher Columbus, who didn’t actually discover the Americas, but found it filled with the native people who had lived there for thousands of years before he set about killing many of them. If you would like to learn more about Columbus’ sordid history, The Oatmeal has this handy explanatory webcomic, or you can read Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.
The idea of celebrating this man irritates people, and a few states and cities don’t observe it or hold alternative celebrations. People mostly ignore it since most workers and some students don’t get the day off because: “the markets are open.”