Saskatchewan’s provincial government published guidelines for Canadian Thanksgiving 2020

Canadian Thanksgiving differentiates from American Thanksgiving in November in many ways. Canada’s autumn feast is smaller in scale, less glamourous and without a discernible historical context.

American Thanksgiving is based on a legendary meal held in Plymouth Massachusetts in 1621.

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Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday is purported to have a connection to the explorer and privateer, Sir Martin Frobisher – an English seaman, who made three voyages to the New World in search of the Northwest Passage, but the historical tie with Frobisher isn’t quite as certain in comparison to America’s holiday in November.

Thanksgiving became officialized in Canada in the 19th century, when Canada’s Protestant ministers called on the government to have a special day to thank God for the harvest in 1859.

Canadian Thanksgiving was moved to a Monday in 1908, when the nation’s railways petitioned Sir Wilfred Laurier’s Liberal government to have the holiday changed into a long weekend, so people could visit their families by train.

But Canadian Thanksgiving in mid-October as the country knows it at the present didn’t become authorized until the late 1950s.   

Governor General of Canada Vincent Massey released a decree on January 31, 1957, affirming: "A day of general Thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed – to be observed on the second Monday in October."

Thanksgiving this year is set to happen on Oct. 12.

With concerns over a second wave of the pandemic, the provincial government released a set of guidelines for residents to follow when they celebrate Thanksgiving in 2020.

Although Thanksgiving is an important annual gathering of friends and family members in the autumn, these regulations are crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some of the rules appear overtly harsh, but the both the provincial and federal governments wanted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the fall and winter of 2020 and beyond.

This year, shared meals between non-household members, or members who don’t belong in the same extended household, are discouraged.

Private indoor or outdoor events where food is serviced should have a maximum of 30 people. However, there should be enough room to ensure a two-metre separation between individuals who aren’t in the same household.

If proper social distancing can’t be maintained between non-household members, these gatherings must be smaller than originally planned.

The government is dissapproving of potlucks this year, as well as shared food platters and buffet services.  

All served foods should be arranged by a single person. Also, the government recommended to delegate a single person to handle the preparation of food and drinks.

Vulnerable individuals – including seniors and those with underlying health conditions – are urged to have their meals served first to reduce the chances of cross-contamination.  

Another consideration: individual portions of the Thanksgiving meal could be delivered from restaurants or caterers to the households celebrating the holiday to avoid transmission.

Guests and hosts are advised to wash their hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada, before eating or handling food and packaging.