American History and Celebration of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a particularly long American holiday. Most people get to have 2 days off and with the Weekend it’s a nice break from the rat race. Of course the people who work in retail and in restaurants only get one day off which is Thanksgiving Day. At the end though, most people are thanksgiving-ed-out and are ready to go back to work to heal the digestive track from all that overeating not to mention glad the family feuds and reunion is over.
The Thanksgiving Hangover starts on the Monday after where most people get up out of bed and realize that they either need to shed some pounds or are hurting from all the money they have been spending – especially on Black Friday. If you are suffering from weight gain from too much Thanksgiving and have an empty bank account - Click here for a great remedy.
History of Thanksgiving
In America, the word Thanksgiving itself brings to mind images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and, of course, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, the American history book acknowledged founders of the feast. But this is far from being true.
For centuries before the pilgrims from Europe came to North America, the American Indians have been ceremoniously celebrating their own Thanksgiving – thanking Mother Nature for their successful harvests and hoping for a good growing season in the early spring. Any children born around this time would also be celebrated as blessings and would have special names given to them.
As with Native traditions in America, giving thanks and feasting celebrations in England and throughout Europe after a successful crop are as ancient as the harvest-time itself. In 1621, when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the Harvest Home tradition with feasting and sport. For people of strong Christian faith, this was not merely a revel; it was a joyous outpouring of gratitude. Spanish explorers and other English Colonists celebrated religious services of Thanksgiving years before the Mayflower arrived.
What is special about all this is that when the pilgrims from Europe came together to celebrate with the Native Americans, they would be able to understand and celebrate together in peace and harmony. The celebrations were about the gift of life which came about from the harvest meaning their hard work finally paid off. And they would not have to go hungry though the winter making it a really good reason to celebrate. Because of this relationship in America, Thanksgiving became a national holiday that will be celebrated probably forever.
Giving thanks was, and still is, the primary reason for ceremonies or celebrations that we now call a national holiday in America today - Thanksgiving.
The arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans in the new land brought new Thanksgiving traditions to the American scene. These Thanksgiving celebrations were a blend of two traditions, the New England custom of rejoicing after a successful harvest, based on ancient English harvest festivals and the Puritan Thanksgiving, a solemn religious observance combining prayer and feasting.
Long before settlers arrived in the new Americas, the areas were inhabited by many Native American Indian tribes. The area surrounding the site of the first documented Thanksgiving, now known as southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island had been the home of the Wampanoag people for over 12,000 years. There is lots of evidence that they were visited by other European settlers before the arrival of the Mayflower.
The native people knew the land well because they had fished, hunted, and harvested for numerous generations. These tribes were nice enough to teach the new settlers how to survive in the new land. If it were not for this, the pilgrims may not have been able to adapt and survive the harsh environment and America would have been a totally different place than it is today.
The first colony in the new America was the Plymouth Colony. It was comprised by a group of English Protestants who wanted to break away from the over controlling Church of England backed by a brutal monastery. They initially moved to Holland and after 12 years of financial struggles, they received funding from English merchants to sail across the Atlantic to settle in a ‘New World.' The Mayflower, a small but well built vessel carrying 101 men, women, and children spent 66 days traveling the Atlantic Ocean. Their intention was to land where New York City is now located. Due to uncontrollable weather conditions, the group had to cut their trip short and settle at what is now called Cape Cod.
The First Thanksgiving Celebration
One day in the fall after their first harvest, some of the settlers were sent to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The Wampanoag Indians heard gunshots and alerted their leader, named Massasoit. They originally thought that the English settlers might be preparing for an attack on their tribe. Massasoit visited the English settlement with 90 of his warriors to see if the war rumor was true. Soon after their visit, the Native Americans realized that the English were only hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent some of his own men to hunt for food for the feast and for three days, the English and native men, women, and children ate together which is written in the history books as the origin of Thanksgiving.
Modern Day Thanksgiving
Naturally with modern machinery and technology, we don’t really have to be so thankful as in the earlier days because we didn’t have to do any of the work to get our food. We only have to go to the grocery store and buy all the Thanksgiving goodies. Because of this, there is always an abundance of food where even the extreme poor and the homeless can find a shelter or church where they too can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.
For most of us, today’s Thanksgiving has become a TV watching and overeating orgy of family members feuding - turning into a shopping frenzy on Black Friday. I guess some people do say the lords grace before they sit down to eat. LOL
Growing up in the 70’s, my favorite Thanksgiving was the one where the underdog Detroit Lions finally beat the Dallas Cowboys ending a long tradition of Dallas winning on every Thanksgiving.
Facts About Thanksgiving
Florida, Texas, Maine and Virginia each claim that they were the ones that hosted the site of the first Thanksgiving celebration and feast on American soil. Even though there are some historical documents that support these claims, not all celebrations were documented.
The actual first Thanksgiving feast consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted poultry which does not even compare to today's traditional feast. Much of what most modern Americans eat on Thanksgiving was not even available back in the early days.
Believe it or not, the settlers didn't have silver buckles on their shoes. Nor did they wear somber, black clothing. Their clothing was actually bright and cheerful. Many portrayals of this harvest celebration also show the Native Americans wearing woven blankets on their shoulders and large, feathered headdresses, which shows the cold weather of autumn coming in.
It is also said that the Englishmen didn’t like to be called Pilgrims.
It wasn't until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared two national Thanksgivings; one in August to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg and the other in November to give thanks for "general blessings."
So take the time this holiday to give thanks for everything you have in your life and we wish you a very happy and festive Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Edward & JoAnn Walter
The History and Celebration of Thanksgiving