Thanksgiving: A Closer Look (Part One of Two)
Thanksgiving Day is almost here! Thanksgiving is filled with so many long standing traditions, we thought it might be fun to examine some of the more universal ones, and explore where the more iconic traditions come from. Although our traditions have evolved, most are deeply rooted in American History. Read on and this year you can be the one at the table with all the fun facts to impress your friends and family.
Thanksgiving, the Beginning
The “historical version” that we are taught as early as Kindergarten (compete with reenactments) is that in 1621, the Pilgrims come to Plymouth Rock woefully unprepared, almost all die of hunger and are saved as the local, friendly population lovingly teaches them to farm. A successful harvest of new crops are reaped by the pilgrims and then they prepare a bountiful feast for their agricultural teachers and new neighbors to express their gratitude.
However, at least two other theories exist when it comes to the origin of Thanksgiving. One claims a Thanksgiving in Texas marks the beginning. The residents of San Elizario, Texas, say the first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated in 1598 by Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate following the survival of a treacherous crossing through the Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico.
The second story centers around Spanish admiral Pedro Menendes de Aviles and Thanksgiving feast with 500 soldiers and hundreds of the local Timucuan Indians in 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida.
Wherever Thanksgiving started, Plymouth Rock, Texas or Florida, suffice it to say, Thanksgiving is thriving today an considered one of the MAJOR Holidays. So let’s check out what is consistently true for today’s Thanksgiving while taking a look back.
Official Holiday – Thank You Mr. Lincoln
President Lincoln is responsible for declaring the last Thursday in November for the day of thanks. Celebrations and Feasts went on way earlier, with every state having a different day. Lincoln nationalized the day, so we can all get on the same page!
Turkey Hasn’t Always Been the Star
Pilgrims actually preferred duck and goose, and seafood shared equal billing. Lobsters, clams, mussels and even eels made it to the table. On the other hand, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce weren’t even on the menu for at least another 50 years.
Check back next week for Part Two of Thanksgiving: A Closer Look