Thanksgiving is among the least stressful of our national holidays - with no gifts to buy or outside events to attend, we're free to focus on family, friendship and a fantastic meal. And unlike the American holiday, which is associated with pilgrims and their immigration to the New World (not to mention the upcoming Christmas shopping season), the Canadian holiday is all about being thankful for another year's harvest - no matter who you may be thanking. But do you know the history of fall's celebration of farm-fresh goodness? Read on for the details, plus some tips and tricks on making your Thanksgiving meal memorable.
• Thanksgiving derives from ancient festivities in Europe that celebrated the bounty of the harvest - and enough food to survive the winter.
• The event often cited as the first Canadian (and North American) Thanksgiving was a feast of thanks given by Martin Frobisher and the Frobisher Expedition in what is now Newfoundland during their attempts to find the Northwest Passage in 1578.
• Throughout the 19th century, official Days of Thanksgiving were proclaimed to celebrate such events as the cessation of cholera (Lower Canada, February 6, 1833), the end of war between Great Britain and France (Upper Canada, June 18, 1816) and restoration of peace with Russia (Province of Canada, June 4, 1856).
• The first Thanksgiving Day after Confederation was on April 15, 1872, to give thanks for the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.
• From 1879 to 1920, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated annually in October or November, to celebrate "the blessings of an abundant harvest."
• From 1921 to 1930, Thanksgiving was combined with Armistice Day (now Remembrance Day), which was observed on the Monday of the week of November 11.
• Thanksgiving has taken place on the second Monday in October since 1931, except for 1935, when that date conflicted with a general election.
Page 1 of 2 -- Challenge your mind with our Thanksgiving trivia and links to mouth-watering recipes on page 2
It's all about the turkey
• Many traditional Thanksgiving foods -- such as turkey, squash and corn -- are native to the Americas, in keeping with the theme of celebrating the harvest.
• While a roast turkey is traditional at Thanksgiving, there are several alternatives, such as turducken, a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken, or tofurkey, a turkey-flavoured meat-free dish.
• While turkeys have nothing to do with the country Turkey, their name does -- settlers called the birds turkeys because of their similarity to a European bird, the African Helmeted Guineafowl, which was known as the turkey-cock since it was believed to have come to Europe via Turkey.
• Most turkeys sold at grocery stores are domesticated birds, which have been bred for their size and speed of growth to the point where they now cannot fly, walk normally or even breed on their own.
• Many gourmands prefer heritage breeds of turkey, which are typically grown organically and have a much stronger flavour than their domesticated counterparts.
• There is a power plant under construction in Minnesota that will burn 700,000 tons of turkey "litter" (a combination of droppings and bedding material) each year to provide power for up to 60,000 homes.
• It's a myth that compounds in turkey make you sleepy -- blame it on the giant meal instead!
• Maple-Glazed Barbecued Turkey
• Roast Turkey with Corn Bread Stuffing
• Honey Ginger Squash
• Baked Squash with Maple Ginger Glaze
• Sweet Potato Soup with Jalapeño Corn Salsa
• Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
• Pumpkin Pie 6 ways
• Pumpkin Marble Cheesecake
• Best-Ever Apple Pie
• Cranberry Apple Cobbler
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