This Monday (Oct 10) was Canadian Thanksgiving, and even though I live in Utah, I still like to celebrate it. Tonight I’ll be hosting a small get together for my American friends, and introducing them to the Canuck version of Thanksgiving (yeah, it’s basically the same as the American version… but let us silly northerners pretend we’re in some way distinct from the U.S.).
In any case, I was curious about the roots of Canadian Thanksgiving, and was surprised to find (after a quick Google search) that the Canadian Parliament officially established Thanksgiving in 1957 as:
A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed – to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by this. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s perfectly fine if people would like to celebrate Thanksgiving in whatever religious tradition to which they subscribe. However, just like the U.S., a fundamental tenant of the Canadian constitution is the separation of church and state (thus providing its citizens with freedom of conscience and religion). By establishing an official holiday in which citizens are supposed to be thankful to “Almighty God,” the Canadian government has implicitly excluded many religious groups (for example, any polytheistic, pantheistic, or non-theistic religions).
Personally, I’m non-religious. And I’m still very thankful – just perhaps not to any particular omnipotent deity. Rather, I’m thankful to my family, who raised me in a loving, encouraging atmosphere, and who continue to support me in my ongoing endeavours. I’m thankful to my girlfriend, who doesn’t mind that I come home from training BJJ drenched in other people’s sweat, reeking of body odour, and covered in bruises. I’m thankful to my friends, with whom I’ve shared countless amazing memories, and who stick around through life’s inevitable ups and downs. I’m thankful to my instructors, who continue to provide invaluable guidance and encouragement. Finally, I’m thankful to my training partners, who push me to better myself – and (begrudgingly) forgive me when I occasionally injure them trying new techniques that I don’t fully understand.
Thank you all, and happy Thanksgiving.