Thanksgiving and Sports Day
Monday, October 9, 2017 was Thanksgiving Day in Canada, the second Monday of October. Thanksgiving is a major family holiday in Canada, as it is in America. But some of the differences are that 1) in Canada it is a true harvest festival, more than in the U.S. where it focuses on a revisionist fantasy history about Pilgrims and Indians; 2) it is still well over two months until Christmas, so unlike in the U.S. Thanksgiving in Canada is not the start of the Xmas season. Post-Thanksgiving shopping has a smaller impact on the Canadian economy than it has in the U.S.; 3) it is a shorter holiday. In Canada it is a 3-day holiday weekend. American Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November, a 4-day holiday weekend.
Just a month after starting college, many freshmen will return to their families after living away from home, among strangers, for the first time in their lives. The differences in personality and maturity between high school seniors and college freshmen are stark.
Canadian Thanksgiving has been a fixed national public holiday longer than it has been in the U.S. Abraham Lincoln enacted an annual Thanksgiving public holiday, but the date was not fixed. It was a moveable feast. It only became fixed on the fourth Thursday of November in 1939, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Before President Lincoln there were periodic days of Thanksgiving, but it was not a universal annual statute holiday.
Canadian Thanksgiving is the Real Thanksgiving. American Thanksgiving is a grotesque facsimile.
Sadly, my last Thanksgiving with my family was in October 1987. I spent Thanksgiving 1988 with a friend and her family in Ottawa, and since then I've been in Japan every October. I often forget about it until it's over.
Coincidentally, October 9th was also a national public holiday in Japan called "taiku no hi," or Sports Day. It commemorates the opening of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games (In this climate the Summer Games in October is not a bad idea.) The real date is October 10th, but former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's "Happy Monday" law pushed many of Japan's holidays to the nearest Monday, creating more long holiday weekends and streamlining the calendar.
October 10th was made a holiday here because the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were such a big event in Japan's post-war history. Real Big. The Olympics trumpeted the return of Japan onto the world stage as an industrial power and advanced nation.
National public holidays like today are among the few times when Japanese fly their "hino maru" national flag. This is the Police Box at the Minamidai intersection of Honan dori and Nakano dori in my neighbourhood flying the "hino maru."
Notice the Wanted Persons flyers posted in a glass-fronted case next to the flag.
Patriotic displays like flying the flag are much less common in Japan than in North America because so much war time dirt is associated with the flag and its use. Many Japanese - especially older Japanese - continue to harbor ill feelings about it.