Thanksgiving Day is observed each year in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, amid the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
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In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance; instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Turkey, a Thanksgiving staple so ubiquitous it has become all but synonymous with the holiday, may or may not have been on offer when the Pilgrims hosted the inaugural feast in 1621. Today, however, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird—whether roasted, baked or deep-fried—on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity. Communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.
Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Presented by Macy’s department store since 1924, New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest and most famous, attracting some 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route and drawing an enormous television audience. It typically features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats conveying various celebrities and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.
Beginning in the mid-20th century and perhaps even earlier, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement. Several U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.
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THANKSGIVING DAY HISTORY
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England. The ship carried 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship. They suffered from exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived. When the remaining settlers moved ashore in March, they received an astonishing visit. An Abenaki Indian greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American named Squanto.
Squanto was a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe. The alliance would endure for more than 50 years, and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the first successful corn harvest, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast. He invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians suggest that many of the dishes likely used traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.
This history of Thanksgiving provided by www.History.com. For more information on Thanksgiving, go to http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving.
The Next Thanksgivings
Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year. In 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.
In 1817, New York became the first of several states to adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday officially; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition.
In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.For 36 years, she published numerous editorials. The editor sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents, and other politicians.
At the height of the Civil War in 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request. In a proclamation, he entreated all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” President Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. It was celebrated on that day every year until 1939 when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition. In 1941, the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING
National Day of Mourning is observed annually on the fourth Thursday in November.
The organizers of this observance consider Thanksgiving Day as a continued reminder of the democide and suffering of Native American people. Since 1970, participants in the National Day of Mourning have honored Native ancestors and their struggles to survive today. Part of the mission behind the event is to educate Americans about the history of Thanksgiving.
Organized by United American Indians of New England (UAINE) during a period of Native American activism, the march has brought about revisions in the depiction of United States history and government and settler relationships with Native American peoples as well as a renewed appreciation for their culture.
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Consider taking another look at American history and the many varied Native American cultures all across the United States. Examine the relationships, traditions, customs, beliefs. Are you looking for a place to start? An excellent resource is firstnations.org. They offer a comprehensive reading list for all ages. The topics are varied and provide recommendations from their staff as well.
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NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING HISTORY
Since 1970, an annual march and rally organized by United Americans Indians of New England takes place on the fourth Thursday in November, the same day as Thanksgiving. They honor Native ancestors while educating the American public. While the event coincides with a similar protest, Unthanksgiving Day, held on the West Coast, the two events are unrelated.
NATIONAL FRENCH TOAST DAY
Each year on November 28th, people across the United States enjoy National French Toast Day. Also known as eggy bread, omelet bread or gypsy toast, it makes a great breakfast for guests or part of a brunch.
Home cooks and professionals alike whip up a few personal favorites when it comes to french toast recipes. The base consists of eggs and milk whisked together. Bread is dipped into the mixture and fried until golden. Many people also add some sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to the base.
The flavor of French toast can be brightened with a squeeze of a fresh orange or stuffed with sauteed apples and cinnamon. Make French toast kid-friendly by cutting it into sticks. Then dip the sticks into syrup. Substitute sugary syrup with a fruit puree and fresh fruit pieces. Nuts and seeds add crunch to this delicious breakfast fare, and don’t forget the whipped cream! Just a dollop goes a long way.
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Make French toast as part of big breakfast. Freeze leftovers for easy breakfasts later in the week. Have breakfast for dinner. Share your favorite French toast recipes. Do you love cinnamon and vanilla? What’s the best fruit toppings? Add apple butter or another jam. Share your favorite combinations using #NationalFrenchToastDay to post on social media.
Give these recipes a try:
NATIONAL FRENCH TOAST DAY HISTORY
Within our research, we were unable to find the creator and the origin of National French Toast Day.
TURKEY FREE THANKSGIVING
Turkey Free Thanksgiving is observed annually on the fourth Thursday in November.
There are several supportive perspectives for the removal of the turkey from the Thanksgiving feast. From the foodie point of view, there are many more scrumptious proteins than the humble gobbler. There is also the vegetarian and animal rights viewpoints, which are self-explanatory.
Regardless of your perspective, choices abound for a delicious spread without turkey on Thanksgiving Day. When you keep the yams, sweet corn casserole, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes, there are only a few other items left to fill the table. Proteins come in a variety of forms. Chickpeas and quinoa pack a lot of protein. Stuff them along with cheese and seasonings into bell peppers for a colorful centerpiece. For those who need meat on the table, roast a leg of lamb or serve tender prime rib.
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Enjoy Thanksgiving without a turkey. We’ve provided a few recipes to try, but be sure to share your favorite turkey free Thanksgiving options, too!
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TURKEY FREE THANKSGIVING HISTORY
Within our research, National Day Calendar® was unable to identify the origins of this day.
On Deck for November 29, 2019
- Electronic Greetings Day
- National Day of Listening – Day After Thanksgiving
- National Native American Heritage Day – Day After Thanksgiving
- Black Friday – Day After Thanksgiving
- Buy Nothing Day – Day After Thanksgiving
- Flossing Day – Day After Thanksgiving
- Maize Day – Day After Thanksgiving
- You’re Welcomegiving Day – Day After Thanksgiving
Recipe of the Day
Carrot and Pear Soup
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total Prep: 55 minutes
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups diced carrots
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, diced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons diced, fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream for garnish
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent.
Add carrots, pears, ginger, and broth. Increase heat to medium-high. Bring to boil.
Reduce heat. Simmer and stir occasionally until carrots are tender.
Let cool enough to process in food processor until smooth.
Garnish with dill, salt and pepper.
Serve topped with sour cream and bacon crumbles.
About National Day Calendar
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