Although the crowd gathered around our table this Thanksgiving may be a little smaller than usual and missing some of those far away family members, the spirit of this occasion can remain strong. Despite everything we’ve faced in 2020, we are so fortunate that our food supply has remained intact. And that is thanks to all of the hard-working farmers, ranchers, producers, harvesters, transporters and front-line workers.
The tradition of giving thanks and celebrating the harvest goes back centuries on the traditional and unceded ancestral lands and gatherings and rituals of our indigenous communities. These celebrations vary widely between different nations, but many involve feasting, dance, prayer and potlatch. The food also varies widely between different lands and what can be harvested or collected during this season, for example salmon from the BC rivers and coastline.
Many of the commonly consumed foods on Thanksgiving in Canada date back to early celebrations of European settlers coming north from the U.S. in the 1700s. These include turkey, a bird native to North America, as well as squash and pumpkin which are harvested at the end of the summer bounty.
The traditions that each family shares around this holiday are something incredibly special and they should be passed down to each generation so they can continue for years to come. Perhaps they involve special dishes, like vegetables or pies, or other fun past times like a walk in the autumn leaves or a game of family football. Most importantly, begin or maintain a ritual around giving thanks and sharing all that we have to be grateful for during these unprecedented times, whether it be the food on our table, the health of our family and friends or the strong spirit of all Canadians doing our part to stay safe and fight this pandemic.
If you’re looking for some new ideas for Thanksgiving dinner this year, consider serving a delicious vegetable soup to start the meal. It’s a great way to stretch out the time you’re together at the table, not to mention celebrate our beautiful bounty of squash: Butternut Squash Soup. It’s great to teach children that pumpkins (and squash) are not just for jack-o-lantern carving!