Thanksgiving – November 23rd, 2023
America’s Thanksgiving holiday is one of the nation’s most anticipated and special days, celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of November. This holiday was born in the 1500s, mythologized in 1621, and observed even during the Civil War. It has more tradition than any other nonsectarian holiday and is usually symbolized by family, friends, food, and football, yet without an established gift-giving component. The day serves to urge each one of us to be grateful for what we already have.
THANKSGIVING DAY HISTORY
Evidence shows that Spanish explorers and settlers held Thanksgiving services during the late 1500s in what is now called Florida and New Mexico. Thanksgiving was held in what became the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1607, and the first permanent settlement of Jamestown had a Thanksgiving in 1610.
The First ThanksgivingThe Plymouth settlers, known as Pilgrims, arrived in the New World a decade later, and they celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The gathering included all people that remained of the 100 who had landed on the Mayflower and 90 Native Americans. The four adult Pilgrim women who had survived their first winter in the New World were cooking alongside young daughters and servants at the feast.
The Continental Congress appointed one or more days for thanksgiving each year during the war recommending the observance of these days to the executives of the various states in their states. George Washington, the leader of the revolutionary forces, declared a Thanksgiving in 1777 as a celebration of victory to honor the defeat of the British at Saratoga. The legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, the Continental Confederation Congress, issued several “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving.” Eventually, Americans began to observe Thanksgiving and the National Day of Prayer today.
In 1789, New Jersey congressman Elias Boudinot proposed that the House and Senate jointly ask President Washington to declare a day of Thanksgiving for “the many signal favors of Almighty God.” This led to the creation of the first U.S. government-mandated Thanksgiving Day. The holiday became inconsistent for decades.
In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving to be observed on November 26, the final Thursday of the month. The proclamation by Secretary of State William H. Seward read in part:
During a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved for all nations, the order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict.
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Since then, the U.S. presidents followed Lincoln’s example, declaring the final Thursday in November as Thanksgiving annually. However, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared November’s fourth Thursday rather than the fifth as Thanksgiving, arguing that an earlier Thanksgiving would give Merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas and help bring the country out of the Depression. In 1942, a law was established to make the fourth Thursday a federal holiday till today.
FIVE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THANKSGIVING
1. Four towns with the name Turkey
Four different towns in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and Louisiana in the United States are named Turkey.
2. Consumption of Calories
Up to 4500 calories, on average, are consumed during Thanksgiving festivities.
3. 17th-Style Celebration
If you want to experience Thanksgiving like way back in the 1600s, part of Plymouth, Mass is still the same, and tickets can be purchased months in advance.
4. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
No giant floats or balloons existed in the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the early 1920s.
5. 46 Million Turkeys
An estimated 46 million turkeys are prepared in America for annual Thanksgiving feats.