CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

November 16, 2014

11 Unique Facts About Thanksgiving


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

11 UNIQUE FACTS ABOUT THANKSGIVING

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.

No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless,

set aside a day of Thanksgiving.”

– H. U. Westermayer^^^^^

Many historians believe that only five women were present at the first Thanksgiving, as many women settlers didn’t survive that difficult first year in the U.S.* Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts

Thanksgiving is an amalgam of different traditions, including ancient harvest festivals, the religious New England Puritan Thanksgiving, the traditional harvest celebrations of England and New England, and changing political and ideological assumptions of Native Americans. Thanksgiving is often considered the site of the first cultural war because it contains both a narrative of the birth of freedom and democracy as well as an account of racism, mistreatment of Native Americans, and conflict.**

Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.**** Thanksgiving can occur as early as November 22 and as late as November 28. **

Below is a quiz to entertain and puzzle you. Something to share with your friends and family following your Thanksgiving feast.

Turkeys in a garden in East Weymouth, Mass.

Turkeys in a garden in East Weymouth, Mass.

QUESTIONS

  1. Was the autumn 1621 Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts the first thanksgiving celebration on North American soil in the New World?
  2. Who is considered the Mother of Thanksgiving?
  3. What utensils were used at the first Thanksgiving?
  4. What popular product did Thanksgiving spawn in 1953?
  5. Who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land?
  6. How did the early settlers plan on celebrating the first Thanksgiving?
  7. What was on the menu at the Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving dinner?
  8. What is the average long-distance mileage of Thanksgiving travel?
  9. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is not the original holiday parade. Which parade was the first?
  10.  What is the National Day of Mourning?

BONUS QUESTION

Who wrote the two accounts of the first Thanksgiving?

 To learn the answers click on MORE:

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ANSWERS

  1. The pilgrim celebration at Plymouth Colony Massachusetts in 1621 is traditionally regarded as the first American Thanksgiving. However, there are actually 12 claims to where the “first” Thanksgiving took place: two in Texas, two in Florida, one in Maine, two in Virginia, and five in Massachusetts.* The first Thanksgiving in America actually occurred in 1541, when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his expedition held a thanksgiving celebration in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle.** American Thanksgiving celebrations off the North American continent include Makahiki, a Hawaiian thanksgiving that was celebrated long before the Pilgrims. It lasted four months, approximately from November through February. During this time, both work and war were forbidden.** Also, The people of the Virgin Islands, a United States territory in the Caribbean Sea, celebrate two thanksgivings, the national holiday and Hurricane Thanksgiving Day. Every Oct 19, if there have been no hurricanes, Hurricane Day is held and the islanders give thanks that they have been spared.**
  2. Sarah Josepha Hale.* She tirelessly worked to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday** and finally convinced President Lincoln in 1863 to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, after campaigning for this to happen by writing letters for 17 years.* Hale, an influential editor and writer, selected the last Thursday in November because, as she said, harvests were done, elections were over, and summer travelers were home. She also believed a national thanksgiving holiday would unite Americans in the midst of dramatic social and industrial change and “awaken in Americans’ hearts the love of home and country, of thankfulness to God, and peace between brethren** Hale authored two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including “Mary Had a Little Lamb**
  3. The pilgrims ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. They wiped their hands on large cloth napkins which they also used to pick up hot morsels of food.^* Forks weren’t introduced to the Pilgrims until 10 years later and weren’t a popular utensil until the 18th century.*
  4. In 1953, Swanson had so much extra turkey (260 tons) that a salesman suggested they should package it onto aluminum trays with other sides like sweet potatoes — and the first TV dinner was born!* The first Swanson-brand TV dinner, produced in the United States, consisted of a “Thanksgiving meal” of turkey, cornbread dressing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.***
  5. The Wampanoag Indians.^ 90 of them attended the first Thanksgiving.*
  6. They planned on giving thanks for their first harvest by praying and abstaining from food.
  7. When the Wampanoag Indians joined the pilgrims the pilgrim’s fast turned a three-day feast!* The only two items that historians know for sure were on the menu are venison and wild fowl, which are mentioned in primary sources. It is plausible that lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims’ menu as well.^*
  8. 214 miles, compared with 275 miles over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. In 2009, roughly 38.4 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles to be with family for Thanksgiving. More than four million flew home. Thanksgiving Day is actually the busiest travel day, even more so than the day before Thanksgiving, as most people believe.**
  9. The Philadelphia department store Gimbel’s had sponsored a parade in 1920 ^^ with about 50 people and Santa Claus bringing up the rear.** The Macy’s parade began in 1924 with 400 employees marching from Convent Ave to 145th street in New York City. No large balloons were at this parade, as it featured only live animals from Central Park Zoo.* This parade soon became a Thanksgiving tradition and the standard kickoff to the holiday shopping season. It became ever better known after it featured prominently in the hit film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), which shows actual footage of the 1946 parade.
  10. Every Thanksgiving, a group of Native Americans and their supporters gather on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning. The flyer for the event in 2006 reads, in part, “Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today.”**

BONUS QUESTION ANSWER

Edward Winslow and William Bradford?

The most detailed description of the “First Thanksgiving” comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:

  • “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”^*

William Bradford offered an account of the celebration: it doesn’t mention turkey specifically but it does mention wild fowl, which is understood to include turkey, duck, geese, and swans. In all likelihood the main protein was actually venison.^^^*

Thanksgiving's over...time to prep for Christmas

Thanksgiving’s over…time to prep for Christmas

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