Everyone has heard of Thanksgiving. In America, it can be traced back to 1621, when the Pilgrims at Plymouth gave thanks for the first successful harvest after their arrival in the New World. Abraham Lincoln declared the first official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, during the American Civil War. Today, Americans celebrate it on the fourth Thursday in November, and in many ways it’s bigger than Christmas there – a fact I can personally confirm, having spent Thanksgiving in upstate New York last year.
However, if you’re not from Canada, you’re perhaps unaware that Canadians have a Thanksgiving celebration of their own. And you’ll probably be surprised to learn that the first Thanksgiving in Canada occurred in 1578, over 40 years before the one at Plymouth. Canadian Thanksgiving takes place closer to harvest time, on the second Monday in October, which just happened to be this past Monday – October 8th.
For us, this year’s Thanksgiving was particularly special, since it fell on the 1st birthday of Rich and Sue’s Goddaughter, Abi, who was visiting (along with her parents) from the UK. To mark this double celebration, we spent the day at Niagara Falls. We even got to do something I’ve never done before in all my visits to the Falls – walk across the Rainbow Bridge, which joins Canada to the USA. (I’ve crossed it many times in the past few years, but always in a car.)
After marvelling at the cascading waters from both sides of the border, we enjoyed our Thanksgiving/Birthday dinner overlooking the Falls from the Canadian side, watching the sun go down behind the plume of mist. The perfect end to a perfect day. The kind of day that makes you thankful just to be alive!