Thanksgiving day is celebrated mainly in America and Canada. Much like the annual harvest festivals celebrated in other countries throughout the world, Thanksgiving Day was meant to pay our homage to the Almighty for this bountiful harvest. While the purpose and origin of the concept remains the same, the day of its celebration differs from country to country. In the United States, the holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November while in Canada (which has an early harvest cycle and season), the holiday is observed on the second Monday in October, known as the Columbus Day. Much like the Christian Thanksgiving day, it is celebrated with pomp and show.
Since 1930, the end of Thanksgiving season marks the beginning of Christmas shopping season. In Canada, Thanksgiving holiday lasts for only three days but the time period may vary in the US. Let's have a look at the brief history of Thanksgiving in North America, U.S. and Canada:
In North America: Thanksgiving Day was first celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine when Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his men shared a feast with the natives. After that Pilgrims held a three days feast to make merriment on their enormous harvest.
In United States: The immigrants who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were basically members of the English Separatist Church (a Puritan sect). They took shelter in Netherlands but soon were disgusted by their lifestyle. They settled in United States with a desire for a better lifestyle. But their beginning was horrendous. The climate was unfavorable and many of them died. But in 1621 they hard turmoil bore fruits for them as there was a huge harvest. They celebrated it with a feast with 91 Indians who had helped them during their harsh times.
Thanksgiving was celebrated after that at irregular intervals until Franklin Roosevelt, had set it one week to the next-to-last Thursday of November in order keeping an eye on commercial benefits as Christmas was nearby. Allegations were brought against this decision, which made the President to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
In Canada: Probably the Americans who migrated to Canada after American Independence brought with them the practices of Thanksgiving. Initially it was celebrated in English Canadian Society but later it became a countrywide practice. Formally, Canadian Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on April 5, 1872 on behalf of the Prince of Wales' recovery from illness. Innumerable transformations took place before the date of celebration finally settled on the second Monday in October in 1957.