A look at past celebrations of Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving holiday will soon be upon us. It is one of the most popular annual family holidays – in some cases, second only to Christmas and New Year’s.

The roots of Thanksgiving go back centuries.

The celebration of the end of harvest, and hopefully the security of having enough food for the coming winter, is deeply rooted in agricultural societies. The famous Pilgrim Thanksgiving feast in Massachusetts in 1621 is often cited as the origin of many of the traditions of Thanksgiving celebrations.

There are records of Thanksgivings in Nova Scotia going back to the mid-1700s. After the end of the American Revolution, Loyalist refugees, who flooded across the border into Canada, brought with them many of the American traditions such as turkey, pumpkins and squash.

The dates of Canadian Thanksgiving fluctuated over the years, often being held between mid-October and early November. In 1879, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 6th.

A tradition of setting the date of Thanksgiving by annual proclamation, by the Governor General, continued for many decades. However, local celebrations continued to be determined by the state of local harvests.

Also, Thanksgiving generally had a strong religious component and was often marked on a Sunday with special church services.

One of the first recorded Thanksgiving celebrations in Red Deer took place on Oct. 11th, 1892 at the conclusion of the first fall fair.

A large harvest home supper was held behind the Brumpton Store, on the south side of Ross Street, just west of Gaetz Avenue. Rows of wooden tables and benches were set out for the serving of the meal. Afterwards, the crowd moved to the Methodist Church on Blowers (51) St. for an evening’s entertainment consisting of humorous readings, instrumental music and hearty singing of hymns and popular songs.

The official Thanksgiving Day in 1892 was on Thursday Nov. 10th. For several years before that, and several years after, Thanksgiving was on a Thursday, although the dates ranged from mid-October to mid-November. In 1907, Thanksgiving Day fell on the same day as Halloween (i.e. Oct. 31st).

The following year (1908), Thanksgiving was changed to a Monday (Nov. 9th). It was felt that by setting the holiday on a Monday instead of a Thursday, families would have a greater opportunity to travel and visit family and friends.

The Canadian Pacific Railway encouraged this idea by offering special fare reductions, if a round–trip ticket was purchased.

The First World War was a searing experience across Canada. Consequently, as the War finally began to draw to a close, there was a widespread movement to have a national day of thanksgiving to celebrate the end of hostilities and the return of peace.

Thus, while the official Thanksgiving Day in 1918 was set as Monday, Oct. 14th, another Thanksgiving Day was set for the first Sunday after the War came to an official end on Nov. 11th. However, because of the terrible Spanish influenza epidemic that was sweeping the country, this day of thanksgiving for peace was postponed to Dec. 1st as a public health measure.

In 1921, the government decided to combine the traditional Thanksgiving Day and the new Armistice (Remembrance) Day. Hence, Monday, Nov. 7th was designated as the combined national holiday. That tradition was continued until 1931, when the Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day holidays were separated again.

Thereafter, Thanksgiving Day was generally proclaimed as being the second Monday in October. An exception occurred in 1935, when Thanksgiving was shifted from Monday, Oct. 14th, to Thursday, Oct. 24th, because of the federal election. Remembrance Day was commemorated on Nov. 11th, regardless of what day of the week that was.

After 1957, Thanksgiving Day was permanently set by national legislation as the second Monday in October. The annual proclamations by the Federal Government became a thing of the past.

Just Posted

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony welcomes athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official opening of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vehicle theft from dealership

Police were able to disable the SUV with assistance from the built-in vehicle assistance system

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

LOCATED: Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Amanda Kucher was last seen at the Innisfail 7-Eleven on Feb. 15

Red Deer College transforms into Athletes’ Village

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta minor hockey team, slammed for Indigenous dance video, forfeits season

Parents say season was too dangerous to finish because the team has been threatened

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet move due to departure from team: Trudeau

Jody Wilson-Raybould suddenly quit the cabinet this week, but Trudeau isn’t saying

Most Read