Local stories

The origin of Thanksgiving

October 9, 2020
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Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in many households in North America every year. But do you how this holiday originated? In North America, its origins date back to the 16th century when a sailor and explorer named Sir Martin Frobisher lead a quest for the Northwest Passage. It is said that, once he found the passage and returned to Baffin Island, he and his crew gave thanks to God for having made the crossing safely and in good health.

Gradually, the holiday took hold in America in different forms and on different dates and was eventually set for the second Monday of October in Canada by Parliament in 1957. Thanksgiving remains extremely popular with our neighbours to the south, while in Canada, it is more anchored in customs in the Maritime provinces and English Canada. In Quebec, the tradition seems less popular.

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On our plate

Traditionally, as Thanksgiving is also a time to celebrate the end of the harvest, seasonal vegetables are the order of the day. Sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin in particular are an integral part of the feast — all vegetable that are staples in the fall.

Corn and cranberries are also often added to the meal. Since both are traditionally used by First Nations, and cranberries were a sign of peace at the time, they were naturally included in the feast.

What about the turkey?

Turkey, meanwhile, would have been one of the first animals to be discovered by explorers of the New Continent. According to some, farmers fattened it all summer so that it was ready to be eaten at the harvest festival, making it the meat of choice on most Thanksgiving tables. Today, turkey is such an important and entrenched tradition that the amount of turkeys consumed in Canada on Thanksgiving represents one-third of the turkeys purchased in an entire year.

For many, Thanksgiving is wonderful occasion to get together around a feast worthy of the name. This year, take the opportunity to add new flavours to your table: add parsnip, beets or even turnips! Quebec is full of delicious produce in the fall. Base your menu on the flavours you see on the grocery store shelves. You can even substitute turkey for a plant-based protein. Why not? The only limit is your imagination.

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