Hello, dear readers! Today we’re going to delve into the riveting history of one of America’s most beloved holidays – Thanksgiving. This day holds a special place in our hearts and on our dining tables, and it’s only fitting that we pay homage by exploring its rich background. So, let’s pull up a chair, grab some pumpkin pie (it’s never too early for dessert), and dive deep into the fascinating origins of this age-old tradition.
The Pilgrim Story: The Inception of Thanksgiving
The story of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621 – not exactly yesterday! It all started with a group of English Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower to what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. After surviving a tough winter (which unfortunately claimed several lives), they experienced their first successful harvest.
To celebrate this milestone, Governor William Bradford organized a three-day feast which was attended by the Native American allies including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. This historic event is often regarded as ‘The First Thanksgiving’. However, turkey wasn’t on the menu – instead, they feasted on venison (deer meat) along with various types of fish and birds.
Note: Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgiving did not become an annual tradition right after this feast.
Evolution Over Centuries
In reality, days of thanksgiving were celebrated irregularly whenever there was something significant to be grateful for like victory in war or end of a drought. It took another two centuries before it became an official holiday!
In 1789 President George Washington issued the first ever national Thanksgiving proclamation calling upon Americans to express their gratitude for the conclusion of the country’s war for independence and successful ratification of U.S Constitution. Yet even then, it didn’t establish itself as an annual tradition.
Sarah Josepha Hale: The Godmother of Thanksgiving
Enter Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential editor and writer who championed the cause of making Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote numerous letters to politicians and published editorials for over 17 years advocating for this.
Her persistent efforts finally bore fruit when President Abraham Lincoln, in midst of Civil War in 1863, proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”. This was to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. And thus, an annual tradition was born.
The Great Date Debate
But wait – today we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November not the last one! Well, that’s another interesting story. During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved it up a week hoping to boost Christmas shopping and stimulate economy. However, this decision met with public outcry leading to what is humorously referred as ‘the great Thanksgiving controversy’.
Congress officially stepped in 1941 and passed a legislation declaring Thanksgiving be held on fourth Thursday of November where it stays till today.
Fun Fact: Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving but on second Monday of October!
Celebrations Today: A Blend Of Old And New
Today’s celebrations still bear semblance to old traditions – we gather with loved ones over bountiful feasts expressing gratitude for blessings received throughout the year. But some new customs have been added too like watching football games or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade featuring giant balloons!
And how can we forget Black Friday sales that follow immediately after? It marks beginning of Christmas shopping season with stores offering blockbuster deals causing quite frenzy among shoppers!
In conclusion, while turkey (or Tofurky for vegetarians!) stuffing and cranberry sauce are definitely highlights; at its core Thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude – something that hasn’t changed since inception.
As you carve the turkey this year and share laughter with loved ones, take a moment to remember this fascinating history that has shaped our modern celebrations. After all, knowing the background makes every bite taste just a little bit better!
Did You Know? The heaviest turkey on record weighed in at a whopping 86 pounds!