Thanksgiving Day (Jour de l’Action de grâce in Canadian French) is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.
While some researchers state that “there is no compelling narrative of the origins of the Canadian Thanksgiving day”,the first Canadian Thanksgiving is often traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher. Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean, held his Thanksgiving celebration not for harvest but in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs. On his third and final voyage to the far north, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Frobisher Bay in Baffin Island (present-dayNunavut) to give thanks to God and in a service ministered by the preacher Robert Wolfall they celebrated Communion.
The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are also sometimes traced to the French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests. The French settlers in the area typically had feasts at the end of the harvest season and continued throughout the winter season, even sharing food with the indigenous peoples of the area.
As settlers arrived in Canada from New England, late autumn Thanksgiving celebrations became common. New immigrants into the country, such as the Irish, Scottish and Germans, also added their own traditions to the harvest celebrations. Most of the U.S. aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey), were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.
Thanksgiving is now a statutory holiday in most jurisdictions of Canada, with the exception of the Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island,Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a large meal, generally centered around a large roasted turkey.
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner
Side dishes: cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, peas and carrots, corn, mashed potatoes, cabbage salad, pumpkin pie
Halloween or Hallowe’en (/ˌhæləˈwin, -oʊˈin, ˌhɒl-/; a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”), also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31.
Today’s Halloween customs are thought to have been influenced by folk customs and beliefs from the Celtic-speaking countries, some of which have pagan roots, and others which may be rooted in Celtic Christianity
This date marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. Like Beltane/Calan Mai, it was seen as a time when the spirits or fairies (the Sí) could more easily come into our world and were particularly active. The souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them.However, the spirits or fairies could also cause harm, and needed to be propitiated or warded-off. This is thought to have influenced today’s Halloween customs. Bonfires, which were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, were lit and sometimes used in divination rituals. At the household festivities in these areas, there were many rituals intended to divine the future of those gathered, especially with regard to death and marriage. Christian minister Eddie J. Smith has suggested that the bonfires have a later Christian origin and were used to scare witches of their awaiting punishment in hell.
In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip. Subsequently, the mass marketing of various size pumpkins in autumn, in both the corporate and local markets, has made pumpkins universally available for this purpose. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.
The modern imagery of Halloween comes from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankensteinand Dracula) and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy). One of the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poetJohn Mayne, who, in 1780, made note of pranks at Halloween; “What fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, as well as the supernatural associated with the night, “Bogies”(ghosts), influencing Robert Burns’ Halloween 1785. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.
Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, and mythical monsters. Black, orange, and sometimes purple are Halloween’s traditional colors.