Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers. It is a very different year, but hopefully you still get to share some family love and joy in whatever way that keeps you safe and comfortable.
Speaking of something very different, I wrote a piece of an iconic Canadian tradition that very little know about that happens every fourth Thursday of November. This was originally written way back in 2010, which you may notice was before I had kids, so when I clearly had way more time on my hands. I would actually like to try some of these more creative pieces on the blog again. For now, here is a reheat from way back in 2010.
First of all, to every single American reader, I want to wish you an absolutely fabulous Thanksgiving. I hope you stuff yourself properly with turkey, cranberry sauce, parades, football, and Pepto Bismol.
But a little known fact, is Canadians have their own little holiday today. We like to call it Thursday. Despite how glorious and festive this day truly is (ingrained with such rich history and tradition), it is widely unknown by most of those outside of the country (and inside), even though it is such a cherished and beloved event here. So, in order to properly inform and teach my wonderful readers, I will now give you the gift of this Terrific Thursday Top Ten -- which is not only an amazing alliteration, but also will help teach you about this special day.
10. There is of course the just as important Thursday Eve, which some like to call Wednesday night. This is the night that children all over the country eagerly anticipate the coming of the Thursday mascot, the pick ax wielding squirrel. In order to show their appreciation for the squirrel, families will leave out year old molded bread (which probably has been left out the entire year anyway) and a fresh glass of window cleaner. Families then excitedly cram themselves into the attic for a night of awful sleep (it is the attic and it is November in Canada), and wait for the arrival of the adored pick ax wielding squirrel. Thursday morning, children will run to their bedrooms, and try to discover which of their undesired toys had been smashed to bits by the ax (children are expected months in advance to send a list of ten toys they would like destroyed and it is up to the squirrel to decide). Of course, the parents get the joy of cleaning the windows that have been smeared with window cleaner soaked moldy bread crumbs.
9. The traditional egg hunt, which is a favourite Thursday event, comes after the smashed toy discovery. The Friday after the Thursday, a neighbour sneaks into the house and hides an egg (in the old days it was often near a radiator, but now one looks for the warmest possible appliance). The egg is then left there for the entire year, until the blessed Thursday arrives. On Thursday, the whole family scours the house for the now beyond rotten egg, and possibly the collection of bugs and maggots that have set up residence. The hunt is usually more of a test of one's smell in order to seek out the egg, but it is harder than you may think; in most cases the putrid egg's odour has killed off most people's ability to decipher smell by March. It is a true battle of attrition to see who still call trace the egg by smell, and then of course, the real fun is the yearly family squabble over who actually will pick up the egg to dispose of it. Typically, the egg is thrown into the trash, and most don't eat the egg unless they are especially festive or traditional (our great ancestors would believe us to be epic wimps for not consuming the Thursday Egg). Now some family have slid away from the hiding of the egg tradition, and have started substituting it with a slab of honey glazed ham. It is also not recommended to eat this.
8. The 'running of the squid' may be the oldest and most honoured Thursday tradition. Despite its heralded status, there has been debate over the actual name, which you will see once I describe the event. This is where the local town crazy comes out of his pizza box constructed hovel for his yearly exposure to light. He brings with him his trusty bag of pet squids. He then proceeds to walk the streets and pelt pedestrians with his squids. You haven't experienced a Thursday until you've had a slimy squid smack you upside the head. The crazy man will run the streets screaming and tossing his squids, while everyone else tries to avoid him. Nothing says community bonding like trying to avoid being hit by a squid. As you can see, it isn't really an event that squids run, but rather a running away from the squids (being tossed by the town crazy).
7. What Canadian doesn't love the "Battle of the Strongest Against the Weakest"? This is where each town in Canada (we don't have cities anymore, ever since Toronto got too big and declared itself its own planet and literally rocketed itself into orbit -- which caused another national day of celebration) has its citizens scour the streets for the largest and strongest looking man. He then is matched up against the town's smallest and most feeble young girl. The town then declares a fight to the death, and the large man is armed with a spiked bat. The whole town is entertained by the plethora of one liners from the strong man. "I really don't think this is right." "I am really uncomfortable with this." "I am not going to kill this young girl." "Where is her family?" And other funny things like that. The girl on the other hand has been kept in a cage for weeks, and was only given enough water and grass to make sure she survived. After the crowd tires of the big man's protests, the mayor rings a dinner bell, and the young girl lungs for the beefy man and proceeds to do her best impersonation of a rabid dog tearing into a sausage on the man's neck. It really is family fun for all, and the girl gets a nice hearty meal out of it.
6. Speaking of sausage, there is also the traditional stuffing of sausage. This is where we purchase an absurd amount of sausage and proceed to stuff them into wool socks. Naturally, we then hang the sausage stuffed wool socks throughout the house. It is quite a site, and it allows us to learn what type of wildlife lives near us as well.
5. It isn't a holiday without a massive festive feast. The traditional feast is usually prepared by the esteemed Swanson family, who are kind enough to leave their meals packaged and ready at most of the local grocery stores. I recommend the Salisbury steak because it comes with a delicious apple strudel like thing.
4. Another tradition is to do top ten lists that are not really top ten lists at all, but rather absurd essays with paragraphs that are broken up by numbers. I've also just been informed it isn't an 'apple strudel like thing' but rather a brownie.
3. The one thing that really makes this holiday stand out from the rest, is the fact you're actually expected to still go to work. The fact you're working on a holiday really does make Thursday stand out from all the ones where you just lie around home all day. Though there was a great fuss way back in the olden days, when in 1997 Coalminer Cole complained that it can't be holiday if his son was still trudging away in the salt mines. People just ignored him though, because nobody knew what the heck a salt mine was.
2. My father always said, "It isn't a holiday if there isn't mass hysteria and relentless panic." So, everyone looks forward to 6:45pm when their regularly scheduled programming is interrupted by a breaking news update that rabid, carnivorous, vegan llamas have invaded the town. Just like any good Canadian is expected to respond during crisis, families immediately start pelting each other with cans of creamed mushroom soup. When the cans have been sufficiently dented by the Canuck noggins, the conscious family members proceed to the neighbour's yard for the traditional pillaging of goods and breaking of bread (and glass and doors and beds and whatever else can be snapped or crushed or smashed). While this festival is taking place, the newest members of the community dress up as llamas and roam the streets while clucking (it was voted back in 2002 that llamas likely clucked). Not only is this essentially a fantastically fun parade for the children (who doesn't like a legion of rabid, carnivorous, vegan llamas), but it is a great initiation for all the new people in the town. As my father always said, "Nothing says welcome to my city than seven baseball bat blows to the head." And oh do the blows ever come fast and furious, as baseball bat wielding citizens declare they will keep their town safe from llamas and will not go down without a fight (town folks are cliche). Though the llamas usually are not much of a threat since it is just frightened newcomers in hard to move death traps disguised as mascot outfits. Often, the enraged citizens get bored very quickly with the quivering masses of llama goo on the street, and so they will start up an impromptu game of "Whack Everyone and Everything With A Bat." After the game, the still mobile members tend to head to the bar for a victory celebration. This event is also a very good way of population control.
1. Since this is such a spectacular and hallowed day, it needs to be sent off in a prestigious and memorable way. So, everyone who is functional and alive, will head over to the town square a few minutes before midnight. This is where a large video screen is set up, and it broadcasts a live fireside reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar read by Michael Clarke Duncan. There is no other way to end a holiday like this properly.
So, now you know what Canadians do on Thursday. I hope you're not too jealous. I'm off to find my bat now.