Thanksgiving Desserts to Celebrate the Holiday in Canada
Today, we’re going to dive into the world of Thanksgiving desserts in Canada. With the arrival of autumn, its blazing colours, nostalgic scents, and unique atmosphere, we’re reminded that the holiday is just around the corner. It’s a time of reunion, friendliness, and gratitude when families and friends across the country gather around delicious dishes to celebrate life’s blessings together.
In this festive atmosphere, desserts have a special place, adding a sweet and memorable touch to these precious moments. In Canada, Thanksgiving is often synonymous with fall treats that warm the heart while satisfying the taste buds.
So, let’s explore the history of this tradition and discover the best goodies you should try for the occasion.
Canadian Thanksgiving Desserts Selection
How could anyone think of celebrating Thanksgiving without thinking of the famous pumpkin pie? Many people will tell you that it’s the official dessert of the holiday and no wonder why, given the abundance of pumpkins in this season. With its orange hues and spicy scents, this dessert perfectly captures the essence of the fall and the flavours of this celebration.
Chocolate Pecan Pie:
This classic, timeless pie is a true delicacy traditionally associated with autumn that combines the sweetness of sugar (or maple) cream with the crunch of pecans. This version is enhanced by a touch of melting chocolate, and the result is a truly dreamy Thanksgiving dessert. Accompanied by a cup of coffee, it’s the perfect way to end your meal.
Butter Tart:We can’t talk about Thanksgiving desserts and neglet the delicious butter tart. This dessert offers a delicate texture, both crunchy and chewy, that’s sure to delight your guests’ taste buds. The filling is made from a mixture of butter, sugar, eggs, raisins, and vanilla, to which you can add your choice of nuts for a more personalized touch.
In keeping with the fall theme, apple pies are also a must-have among Thanksgiving desserts. And if you’d like to try a different twist this year, why not succumb to this delicious apple pie studded with toasted almonds and melted chocolate? Just look at the image and see how the apple jelly filling has added tenderness to the buttery crust. It’s amazing!
Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake:
This exceptional culinary creation combines two of Canada’s best-loved desserts: the classic cheesecake and the famous Nanaimo bar, an iconic British Columbia confection. A fusion of delicious flavours and creamy textures creates a truly unique Thanksgiving dessert that deserves a special place on your table.
Originally from the Canadian Prairies, where it’s very popular, this incredibly delicious pie features three distinct layers that blend perfectly to create a memorable experience: a graham cracker base, a custard filling, and a meringue crown. Each bite is an exquisite blend of creaminess, crispness, and lightness, making it an ideal gourmet dessert to punctuate your Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving: Where Does This Tradition Come From?
The origins of Thanksgiving are deeply rooted in both European and native traditions. An equivalent, generally known as Harvest Festival, can be found in various cultures around the world. These celebrations come at a time of year when farming communities celebrate the fruits of their labour after a season of hard work in the fields.
In North America, long before the arrival of Europeans, most First Nations had festivities that were an integral part of their cultures, during which they expressed their gratitude for the bounty of the earth with specific rituals and on varying dates depending on the region.
Celebrations in Canada
The first time Thanksgiving was celebrated by Europeans in Canada was as far back as 1578, in Newfoundland. At that time, English sailor Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew held a feast to commemorate their safe return from an expedition to Nunavut, during which they had tried in vain to find a sea passage to Asia.
Then, on November 14, 1606, French explorer Samuel de Champlain held feasts in the colony of Port-Royal (now in Nova Scotia) to fortify his troops and combat scurvy, a disease that had decimated their ranks. The allies of the Micmac nation, who were also invited, took part in the festivities by bringing cranberries, small red fruits rich in vitamin C, which clearly helped fight the disease.
But it wasn’t until 1859 that an official date for celebrating Thanksgiving was proclaimed throughout what was then the Province of Canada. At the instigation of the Protestant clergy, inspired by their American counterparts, a celebration was organized to thank God for His mercy, but it drew fierce criticism from some citizens, as it seemed to undermine the idea of separation between church and state.
Then, in 1872, the date was set for April 5 to commemorate the return to health of the Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VIII.
In 1879, the Canadian Parliament officially proclaimed Thanksgiving on November 6, and after the First World War, moved it to November 11, along with Remembrance Day. It wasn’t until 1957 that the Canadian Parliament set Thanksgiving as we know it today, on the second Monday in October. This day was supposed to coincide with the end of the reaping season, celebrating a bountiful harvest and the fruits of the labours of Canadian farmers.
But today, with the vast majority of the population living in cities, the holiday is perceived more as a long weekend to see family and friends, go hiking or visit the cottage one last time before winter, and watch the Canadian Football League’s Thanksgiving Day Classic.
Commemorations in the US
In the United States, it’s customary to say that the first Thanksgiving celebration was held in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in April 1621, with festivities attended by British colonists and representatives of the Wampanoags tribe to celebrate a successful first harvest. We’ve already featured this story in our bread pudding blog.
After many changes of date according to political events, it was President Abraham Lincoln who established the date of this nationwide celebration as the last Thursday in November, starting in 1863. The holiday is celebrated on a much larger scale than in Canada and is often seen as a prelude to Christmas and New Year’s festivities. As a result, the following day, known as Black Friday, has become the busiest day for end-of-year shopping, with many retailers offering major discounts.
Fun fact: In 1939, when there were five Thursdays in October and the holiday was scheduled for November 30, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt decided that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on November 21. The aim was to extend the shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas as much as possible to support retailers in the midst of a recession.
However, this change met with strong opposition, as the holiday was nicknamed “Franksgiving” by its detractors, and many states decided not to adopt it. Moreover, merchants realized that the change had no significant impact on their sales. As a result, in 1941, Roosevelt was forced to backtrack, and the date for celebrating Thanksgiving was set for the fourth Thursday in November.
Rest, Gratitude and Thanksgiving Desserts
While we’re often absorbed by the stresses and responsibilities of daily life, the Thanksgiving period offers us a unique opportunity to take a step back from life, list the many blessings we enjoy in our present age, and show gratitude and appreciation for all of them. So, let’s surround ourselves with loved ones and take full advantage of these moments of joy and respite while enjoying delicious Canadian Thanksgiving desserts and dishes.