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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

History of Thanksgiving

Elle and I took this rainy day without or van (they towed it! accidentally...) to start to learn about the history of Thanksgiving. Maybe it's just me but I have a real void of that knowledge other than the photo images that are marketed of Indians sitting with pilgrims at a big table loaded with food with a boat in the background that says "Mayflower" on the side.
I thought I would share what we learned and if anyone else has anything to add please do! I have a new found passion to learn about the holidays our family celebrates and to educate our children on the real heart of what they stand for.
I got this information from about 5 different websites and then sort of put in my own words... http://www.history.com/ was the main site used.

After 66 days on a boat 102 passengers came over from Plymouth, England in September 1620. They first landed in Cape Cod-far north of their intended target, the mouth of the Hudson River. They mainly stayed on the boat (the Mayflower) all winter and were quite exposed to the elements and come spring, only half of them were still alive.
Upon moving ashore in the early spring they were greeted by and Abenaki Indian who spoke English. He came back days later with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who 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 (who were desperately weakened by illness and malnutrition and lack of knowledge of the new territory) how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish and avoid poisonous plants and insects. He also assisted them with an alliance with the local Wampanoag tribe.
In the fall of 1621 Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory harvest, including the Wampanoag Indians. The event lasted 3 days. Turkey may or may not have been served. It is more likely that lobster, seal and swans were on the menu... certainly no pies with the depletion of the pilgrims supplies since the earlier fall season.
During the American Revolution Continental Congress designated one or more Thanksgiving days/year. In 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States. In it he called Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country's war of Independence and successful ratification of the US Constitution.
John Adams and James Madison did similar during their presidencies.
Other facts:
In 1817 New York was the first state to officially celebrate the holiday.
Sarah Josepha Hale- author of "Mary had a Little Lamb"- was credited as one of the most individuals responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Ben Franklin wrote in a letter to his daughter that he was disappointed that the national bird was not chosen to be a turkey- as he had hoped- and was to be a bald eagle. He wrote of the eagles "bad moral character".
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 2nd Monday in October in Canada.
And lastly... the heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds!!! Jeepers! =)

Have a wonderful November. May it be full of thanksgivings and shared times with family and friends. I encourage you all to create a new tradition this year for yourself/your family.

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