Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, and being thankful for everything in your life. But why do we gather with family and friends on the last Thursday of every November? And why are our plates full of food such as turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie? Of course we’ve all heard the story of the pilgrims and the Native Americans, but why exactly do we carry on the tradition of recreating this feast? Thanks to History.com, we have the answers.
We all know the pilgrims living in the Plymouth Colony and their Native American allies, the Wampanoag people, joined together and shared a feast fit for kings in 1621. But why? Well, the Plymouth colonists had their first successful corn harvest and wanted to have a celebration. The Plymouth governor, William Bradford, invited the Native Americans to celebrate with them. The event ended up lasting 3 days! Believe it or not, turkey and other side dishes we look forward to every November were not part of the menu. In fact, the Native Americans brought 5 deer and some of the pilgrims went bird hunting. They also didn’t have any desserts as they did not have much sugar. So unfortunately, there was no pumpkin pie at the first Thanksgiving. (history.com)
While this is a nice bit of history showing the value of friendship and being grateful, why do we try to recreate this event every year? Well, as it turns out, we actually didn’t celebrate it in the beginning. In 1789, George Washington created a day of giving thanks due to the conclusion of the war and the success of the U.S Constitution. John Adams and James Madison did the same thing following in President Washington’s footsteps. But aside from that, there was no real designated Thanksgiving. That is, until Sarah Josepha Hale, creator of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, had something to say about it (Go ladies!) (history.com)
Hale started a movement to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1827, nearly 200 years after the gathering at Plymouth. She persisted for 36 years. Hale is also responsible for what we eat on Thanksgiving as she published recipes for dishes such as turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally made the decision to establish Thanksgiving as a holiday on the last Thursday of November so as to give the American people a way to call upon God during the height of the Civil War. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to push Thanksgiving up a week so as to increase retail sales during the Depression. The American people, however, did not agree with this change, and “Franksgiving”, as it was mockingly called, was put to an end. (history.com)
Every Thanksgiving, we spend time with those we love and we eat to our heart’s content. Even though the food on Thanksgiving is definitely something to look forward to, there is much more meaning behind the day than just football, parades, and turkey. This year, as you gather around the table, remember to be thankful for the people who are with you and everyone and everything else in your life. Even though our Thanksgiving is a lot different than the first Thanksgiving, our reasons for celebrating are similar. And ladies, don’t forget to enjoy the taste of that turkey knowing a woman is responsible for it being a national holiday! Sorry boys.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!