Happy Thanksgiving, Blog Readers!
Thanksgiving is a national holiday that I’m sure all of you avidly celebrate, but few probably know what it’s actually about. Giving thanks, right? Well, sure—of course it is—but thanks for what? Turkey and the Macy’s Parade, right? Well, no…not exactly. See, taking a day to give thanks way back when used to be a much broader tradition.
I’m sure you all know about the Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock and learned the ways of the Native Americans to celebrate in the harvest feast with them. What you probably don’t know is that thanksgiving days were already a tradition celebrated by the Pilgrims before they landed in the New World.
Days of thanksgiving were once held rather frequently throughout the year, actually. What was a European custom became an American custom for years to make a day of thanks. What were they thankful for? Anything. It could have been a crop that came in really well that year, the end of a drought, or simply making it through a harsh winter.
When the Pilgrims first came to the New World, their harvest feast with the Natives just became one more reason for being thankful. Thanksgiving Day would not become an annually celebrated national holiday until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it in 1863.
One name that we should all remember on Thanksgiving is Sarah Josepha Hale, an American writer and editor (as well as the writer of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”). For 20 years, Sarah campaigned for our national holiday that we all know and love. She was 75 by the time she finally convinced Lincoln by mail that this would be a good holiday to help unify the country after the Civil War.
Thanks to her, we celebrate with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie (all her idea). The “first” Thanksgiving Day celebrated by the Pilgrims and Natives served a fairly different menu consisting of deer, various types of fowl (like turkey and duck), fish (like cod and bass), and flint corn. Like I said—thanks, Sarah!
From all of us at Everything Summer Camp, Happy Thanksgiving!