Wednesday this week marked World Food Day 2013, a day of raising awareness of the world’s food shortages and the suffering of those in countries stricken by poverty. It’s also a chance for us to appreciate the food and other privileges we have in the western world, and consider ways that we can reduce waste and avoid taking what we have for granted. October the 14th also marked Canadian Thanksgiving, a day of celebrating the harvest and spending much needed time with family and friends.
While Thanksgiving isn’t a popular celebration here in the UK, it is clear that there are features of the Canadian Thanksgiving that make it very different from our celebrations such as Christmas or Easter, swapping wide-spread commercialism for a simple appreciation of the harvest, good food and family. In fact, there appears to be much that we can learn from this down to earth celebration which focuses on the things that really matter.
Canadian thanksgiving takes place in October, signifying the relevance to harvest and the focus on giving thanks for a good crop of seasonal produce. As a result of this, seasonal and often locally grown vegetables are the dish of choice, often with the traditional turkey, or another meat dish. Time is spent creating hearty, home-cooked dishes to make the most of seasonal produce whilst it is at its best, and a big meal with family and friends is the focal point of the celebration.
Canadian thanksgiving is nowhere near as big as its American counterpart, with some areas of the country bypassing it altogether. But for many Canadians, it’s still a chance for a day off work and a weekend spending time with loved ones. Canada’s beautiful forests and rural areas make a stunning backdrop for a number of activities, which makes thanksgiving a popular time for hiking and other outdoor activities, making it a great time for people to get out and enjoy the outdoors before the weather turns colder.
What Canadian thanksgiving isn’t
While any celebration or holiday may involve a certain amount of commercialism, and chances are there’ll be an increase in flights and traffic around this time when people seek to escape for the weekend, the Canadian thanksgiving is worlds apart from American thanksgiving, or indeed, Christmas in the UK. There are no gifts needing to be bought, no cheap decorations to be thrown away and none of the stresses of last minute “Black Friday” shopping. Instead, it is a couple of days each year reserved for good, seasonal food and a chance to enjoy it with those you care about, making it a simple, green but special celebration- just the way we like it.
Image soured: Ben Fransketagscanadian thanksgivinggreen celebrationsgreen holidays