How did it come to be known as Thanksgiving Day this happy harvest festival-turned national holiday? Here's what I found out, from my research...
In 1621 some rag-tag pilgrims/Plymouth colonists-settlers, in Massachusetts, gathered together to give thanks for bountiful crops or harvests, and to count their blessings for having 47 out of 103 pilgrims (who) survived their first winter in the New World, now known as America. Yes, about half of the little band had died of the harsh winter.
In the summer of 1621, Governor William Bradford, of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, decreed that everyone would celebrate for three days because of the improving situation of the pilgrims.
The pilgrims did give thanks, with celebration. The menu was very special and everyone helped to prepare the feast. They extended fellowship to the native American Indians who reached out to help them survive the winter. The American Indians brought wild turkey and venison (deer meat). The men provided wild geese, ducks, and fish. The women, on the other hand, prepared the food and also made cornmeal bread and succotash (a cooked dish of kernel of corn mixed with shell of beans, especially lima beans, and often with green and sweet red peppers. Meanwhile, children gathered nuts and wood for the open fires, where the meat was roasted on spits. Then everyone sat around large tables outside and feasted, sang hymns of praise, and had a wonderful time. Truly, it was a time of great feasting, wonderful fellowship and cultural exchange.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation, which set aside the last Thursday in November, each year, as A Day of Observance, A Day of Prayerful Thanksgiving. The credit really should go to Sarah Josepha Hale of Philadelphia. She's the author of Mary Had a Little Lamb and lady editor of "Godey's Lady's Book (which, at that time, had a circulation of 180,000). During the Civil War, she wrote letters to all governors, as well as to the President, and also many editorials for her publication---all devoted to bringing about a national day of Thanksgiving. Eventually, her wish became a reality.
Traditionally a time for family reunions, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, to feast, and to have a joyous holiday. There's that televised colorful and magnificent parade during the day in New York and the much-anticipated football games in the evening across the country while families are feasting, enjoying lots of fun, friendship and food---roast/baked turkey with all the trimmings, and plenty of desserts, such as chocolate cakes, pies of different kinds (apple, coconut, custard, pecan, pumpkin, strawberry). It's certainly a Thanksgiving feast for the family, and extended family, folks, and friends, and guests. Thank you, almighty Father for all of these blessings!
As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, let's pause and reflect, and take time to reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves, especially those affected victims of the past Superstorm Sandy. Let's pray for them, too, that they get their life back and recover as soon as possible. May God bless them! Also, let's pray for our troops who can't celebrate with us or with their families because they're deployed somewhere. We pray to God that they're safe and protected in harm's way.
This Thanksgiving holiday, therefore, let's not forget to give thanks for and count our blessings---good health, peace of mind, food, shelter, freedom of choice, loved ones...May your Thanksgiving be joyful!-chris a. quilpa, 20Nov2012