Thanksgiving in the US, it is a Federal holiday celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November each year, while in Canada it is celebrated on the second Monday of October. It is celebrated in Liberia on the first Thursday of November, while in the Caribbean island of Grenada it is on October 25.
In 1621, although days of thanksgiving were being celebrated across the continental US according to folklore and tradition, Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford went a step further and proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving. As such English Pilgrims celebrated the very first Thanksgiving celebration in the United States as a traditional English harvest feast. At that time, all thirteen Colonies did not share the same date for celebrations and this would not happen for a further 156 years, until October 1777. It wasn’t until 12 years later George Washington became the very first president to make that decree in 1789. In his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln after discussions with New Hampshire senator John P. Hale, declared the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. He supposedly liked the idea of having a day which would celebrate national unity as well as a day of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated earlier than in the US as the harvest season comes earlier since Canada is further north and celebrates a successful harvest. In 1578 the first formal Canadian Thanksgiving ceremony was arranged by English explorer, Martin Frobisher, in what is now called Newfoundland. He did this as a way of giving thanks for surviving the long journey which he had undertaken in an effort to find a northern passage to the Orient. Although unsuccessful in that particular venture, he was ultimately credited with establishing a settlement in Northern America. In 1879, The Canadian Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Although Thanksgiving was celebrated on many different dates over a period of several years, on January 31st, 1957 said Canadian Parliament declared that “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed” and should be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.
The first Thanksgiving celebrations in Liberia were in 1822 and were practiced by the descendents of freed American slaves thanking God for bringing them back to Africa. Thanksgiving Day in Liberia is a public holiday and is celebrated on the first Thursday in November and follows the same traditions as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
Thanksgiving Day celebrations in Grenada is much different that many other areas across the world. Unlike in others areas, Thanksgiving Day celebrations there commemorate the anniversary of the US led intervention on October 25, 1983 which was as a result of the deposition and execution of the former Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.
Although not an official holiday in Jamaica, the practice of celebrating thanksgiving is becoming increasingly more common albeit usually on a private scale. There are however a few entities like resorts, restaurants and bars which participate in the celebrations on a larger more public scale. But what exactly are Jamaicans giving thanks for this year? For instance, if folks stated that they were giving thanks for being spared the wrath of a direct hit by many of the hurricanes to devastate or regional neighbors or the ravages of other natural disasters I’d understand. Or even if one was to say that they were thankful for still being gainfully employed and able to somewhat adequately provide for themselves and their families. But in direct contrast, what about the thousands who were sent to the unemployment line or those who faced crippling losses due to crime and violence in our country? Do they have anything to give thanks for? Should they be giving thanks at this time? Do the celebrations represent the same things here as they do in North America and the rest of the world? Or is it that, we are just following the trend set by or neighbors as we do in many other areas? Ideally, if we are to take Thanksgiving in its basic form, we should all give thanks, not just on one day, but all the time for our many blessings, for family and friends.