Thanksgiving at Kaplan's Canadian Schools
Depending on which side of the Canadian-American border you live on, Thanksgiving will either be the second Monday in October (Canada) or the fourth Thursday in November (USA). Thanksgiving is a holiday where everyone is supposed to appreciate what you have to be thankful for – on Thanksgiving, everyone “gives thanks” for what they have.
Before Thanksgiving was a national holiday in either the US or Canada, “days of thanksgiving” would be celebrated every once in a while after a particularly difficult period of time. This meant that there could be several days of thanksgivings in a single year, or multiple years in a row with no thanksgivings at all. Although the holiday originally had religious undertones, these traditions eventually became merged with harvest festivals celebrating a successful crop year originally held by the native peoples of North America. This is why the modern image of Thanksgiving involves large meals of turkey, vegetables, and other traditional foods, and conjures images of Native Americans and European settlers sitting down together for a meal.
Thanksgiving became an annual tradition for both the US and Canada beginning in the 1800s, but it took a long time for them to have a set date. In 1957, the Canadian Parliament made Thanksgiving the second Monday of October. The date, earlier than in the US, reflects the fact that harvest time is earlier in Canada than its lower neighbor since it’s farther north, and also allows Canadians to take advantage of a long weekend in semi-nice weather before the cold of winter arrives! In the US, Thanksgiving has been in November since 1863 under Abraham Lincoln, but became officially the fourth Thursday in November in 1941 as a result of political compromise. Lincoln had intended for the holiday to be the last Thursday, but during the Great Depression Franklin D. Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would help the economy by giving people more time to shop before Christmas! Under the compromise, American Thanksgiving is usually the last Thursday on November, but is second-to-last in the occasional year with five Thursdays instead of four.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful – to think about why you’re lucky and about all the good things in your life that you might take for granted other days of the year. For this reason, it’s an important time to be with family and loved ones, and can be an especially hard time for those in need. As a result, many people choose to spend their Thanksgiving helping out in soup kitchens and food pantries to ensure that the less fortunate can enjoy a happy Thanksgiving.
Our Kaplan schools in Canada took the chance to give their students a taste of Thanksgiving. Students in Toronto and Vancouver were asked to write down what they were thankful for on a sheet of paper or decorative leaf and add it to the “Tree of Thanks” in the student lounge. On the Friday before the long weekend, students were invited to wear their best autnumnal colors and attend potluck dinners to get a taste of some traditional foods – as well as some less traditional contributions! – and share the happy day with their new Kaplan family. Students were also given a list of local restaurants offering the true Thanksgiving experience, if they wished to celebrate with their friends on the actual day. In keeping with the thankful nature of the day, students were also invited to bring donations of non-perishable food items and cash to benefit local food banks.
Interested in learning a bit more about the history of this delicious holiday? Here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about Thanksgiving.
What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments!