10 Things You May Not Know About Thanksgiving

Some see Thanksgiving as simply a way to catch up with relatives. Others appreciate it as a day to be thankful and share time and good food with loved ones. Whether popular or not, a few facts about this day may take you by surprise:

1. The holiday is celebrated less in Canada than in the U.S.

Thanksgiving is recognized as a statutory holiday in Canada, but it is rarely celebrated in many areas of the country. For Americans it is one of the biggest days of the year.

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2. In Quebec it is known as action de grace.

While celebrated by the English speakers of Quebec, French Canadians often do not consider it a noteworthy holiday. It still results in a day off from work and the closing of businesses, however there are fewer closures in Quebec compared to other parts of Canada.

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3. The first Thanksgiving in Canada was before the first in America.

Many claim the origin of Thanksgiving comes from the English explorer Martin Frobisher. In 1578, he held a formal feast to celebrate surviving his attempt to find a northern passage to the East. This ceremony was held in what is now Newfoundland. This was at least 43 years before the first-recorded American festivities.

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4. The origins of the holiday are not what you think.

While the Frobisher tale is widely recognized as the first, there are subsequent memorable occurrences of this day. In 1872 the country held a celebration for the Prince of Wales who had overcome a serious illness. Finally in 1957 Parliament declared it as a celebration of harvest to be observed annually on the second Monday of October.

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5. Canada has its own Black Friday

Normally the day after Thanksgiving has no significance, except for those in the States. Now Canadian retailers are taking advantage of the popularity, hoping to dissuade shoppers from crossing the border.

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6. Thanksgiving shares time with an American holiday.

Since 1971 Thanksgiving has always occurred on the same day as Columbus Day in the United States. This is a result of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which established the observance of many holidays on Mondays.

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7. One-third of all turkeys are purchased for the holiday.

According to the Turkey Farmers of Canada, observers purchase 3 million whole turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving–nearly 32 percent of all whole turkeys sold during the year.

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8. The wishbone tradition is older than Jesus Christ.

The tradition of breaking a wishbone goes back to 322 B.C. with the Etruscans. When the Romans conquered England they took the habit with them. The English colonists then brought it North America.

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9. Pumpkin pie is fairly new.

Pumpkin pies are usually a staple on many Thanksgiving tables, but according to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, they didn’t catch on until the early 19th century.

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10. Thank Native Americans for cranberry sauce.

Algonquin natives were the first to harvest wild cranberries, using them as food, medicine and symbols of peace.

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While not as big as the American tradition, Thanksgiving is still an important day to many Canadians. Even without the big feasts there is the chance to celebrate and come together.

Can you think of any little-known facts about Thanksgiving?

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