How It Began
The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts! [more]
Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web.
Are you an unmarried woman over 25? Then according to an old Quebec tradition, you'd be a "Catherinette!" But don't worry… put on your apron and start pulling some taffy!
But where does this custom come from?
Tradition says that long ago there was a woman named Catherine who was executed around the year 307 for refusing to marry the Roman Emperor Maxentius. In the 12th century, St. Catherine was named the patron of unmarried women. So on her feast day, November 25, it was customary to expose her statue in all the churches of Paris. The oldest of the marriageable women would place a starched cap on her head, while all the unmarried female workers would wear paper bonnets in their hair. This gave rise to the French saying, common in France and French Canada, "to do St. Catherine's hair," meaning "to remain an old maid." The same custom was found in Brittany and Normandy where the statue was dressed up in the local style.
The tradition was brought to New France with the first settlers, but it is to Marguerite Bourgeois, a teaching sister who was an important figure in the young colony, that we owe "St. Catherine's taffy." To attract the attention of her little aboriginal pupils, she decided to make some taffy. She had opened her first school in Ville-Marie (Montreal) on November 25, and she commemorated the anniversary each year by making taffy so that St. Catherine's day also became known in Quebec as "taffy day." It became customary for marriageable girls to make taffy and give some to all the eligible young men in the area to show off their cooking skill. In English Canada and the US, the sweets became known as "kisses," since whoever kissed the girl would win her heart.