Here in the US we celebrate Thanksgiving every year in November. It’s a time for family and food – lots of food – a time for thankfulness and, for some, it’s the kick off for Christmas.
But what is Thanksgiving really?
When we think of the history of the holiday, we think of the pilgrims landing in an unknown land being helped by the indigenous people. They had a huge feast to celebrate their first harvest in 1621 and they shared the abundance.
But they didn’t have the foods we think of as an integral part of the holiday.
They had venison and fowl, likely duck or goose, but not turkey. Sweet potatoes were unknown on this continent until 1648. They did have pumpkin, but not likely as a pie. In fact, there weren’t the sweets like we have at our tables. There was seafood, stews and beer!
There was a second feast in 1623 held earlier in the year, and that was the end of it – until November 26, 1789 when George Washington declared the day (not an annual event) a National day of thanksgiving and prayer. It was not connected to the pilgrims in any way.
Enter Sarah Hale. In 1846, after reading about the colonist’s first feast, the publisher of the Godey Lady’s Book and author of Mary had a Little Lamb, she decided it would make a great annual holiday.
Every year she started writing about roasted turkey and pumpkin pie, creating traditions that had nothing to do with the pilgrims or indians. She pursued the holiday with government officials until 1863 when Lincoln declared the 4th Thursday in November the annual National Day of Thanksgiving.
Roosevelt tried to move it to the third Thursday, but there was a lot of opposition. So two years later it was moved back.
And now we continue to add new traditions, both familial and nationwide. George W. Bush started the presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey in 1989.
So spend the day with those you love, make new traditions, and be thankful for life and love. Happy Thanksgiving.