Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It requires no presents.   Favorite things associated only with Thanksgiving are on the table.   Food is prepared by multiple hands.  It is a day of sharing.  

Yesterday in church as the minister outlined its history,  I realized how little I knew about this day.  Sure, I learned as a youngster that the first Thanksgiving is said to have been shared by the Pilgrims with Indians in celebration of their harvest and survival in a hostile new world, but there is more to the story than that first celebration in 1621.

In 1789, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation associated with the US government.  It was to be a day of gratitude for the conclusion to the country’s war of independence and ratification of the Constitution.

In 1817, New York was the first of several states to adopt an official Thanksgiving holiday, and depending on where you were it was celebrated in a number of ways.

In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln entreated Americans to heal the nation’s wounds and scheduled  Thanksgiving for the last Thursday in November.  It was celebrated on that day until 1939 when Franklin Roosevelt reluctantly signed a bill declaring Thanksgiving to be on the fourth Thursday of November.  The intent for the change was an effort to spur retail sales during the Depression.  That idea certainly seems to have carried forth, and stores now make a big deal out of opening late Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving is not really a religious holiday but a time to enjoy family and friends or, if you are so inclined, a parade either on TV or in person.  It is a day that football games have become part of, and, of course, it is one where most of us are guilty of overeating.

A blog friend Claire of Promenade Plantings wrote last week of getting caught up in Thanksgiving though it was not part of her English tradition.  That actually got me thinking about the holiday and how it has become uniquely American, but encouraged by yesterday’s sermon to look at its history I found that the roots of Thanksgiving can be traced to ancient cultures that celebrated their times of plenty.  

In this country, sadly as my minister pointed out, much of Thanksgiving’s history has revolved around crisis such as war or hard financial times.  In significant ways, this year will be no different and many people may find it difficult to be grateful.  My hope for all of us, no matter where we are or how hard times may be, is that we will look for the good that marks our lives and be generous in our gratitude.

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7 thoughts on “Do You Know…..

  1. I learned a lot about the history of Thanksgiving as well. And I am VERY impressed at how well you listened! I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for the same reasons you listed. No gifts except for the best gift of all—-family, friends and the recognition of how blessed we are. I love to cook the meal because I enjoy cooking but am not good at coming up with a menu. In this case, the menu is set and all the smells from the oven and the traditional foods are the ultimate in comfort. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. GREAT POST!!…I did learn quite a bit of the history of Thanksgiving…thank you for that!!…Oh, Thanksgiving was one of my dad’s favorite holidays…He loved it as he just loved the entire family and extended family all around the table, giving thanks and enjoying each other’s company without the stress of gifts and decorating…but then again, he loved Christmas too, but Thanksgiving was his favorite…He did say one day a very long time ago…that if he ever won the lotto, the first thing he would buy would be a house with a very large dining room….that would hold a table for 50..so that the entire family, extended family and friends, could all eat at the same table and enjoy each other…(he hated the idea of the adults and kids tables)….
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!!

  3. We always enjoy Thanksgiving day. We have friends that invite us every year to join their family and insist it wouldn’t feel right if we were there. Being welcomed as part of someone else’s family makes me always thankful for the bonds of friendship. I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving together.

  4. Thank you so much for adding to my understanding, with the hstory and your thoughts. We celebrate, if that is the right word, a Harvest Festival, often based around the churches and junior schools, around the end of Spetember, where gifts of food are brought in to be distributed, but nothing like Thanksgiving.
    I sometimes think the blogging world, focuses so much on the food, that the message seems to get lost in it all.
    Thank you, and I wish you a happy, peaceful holiday with your nearest and dearest

  5. I know there has been a lot of suffering this year, but I hope that each and every one of us is able to find at least one thing to be truly thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Linda!

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