Thanksgiving Day Traditions
Apple pie or pumpkin pie? Or both?
What will you and your family do on Thanksgiving Day?
Maybe you’ll spend some of it in the backyard while you deep fry that turkey. Maybe you’ll get up early so you can go pick up Aunt Edna from the airport. You could all gather in front of the TV to watch the parade down 34th Street or sip a few after-dinner brews while you watch the big game. Perhaps you can always count on having to run to the store to get a couple extra cans of cranberry sauce, or Cousin Ernie hogging all the mashed potatoes.
They’re your traditions, and love them or hate them, they are uniquely yours. The beauty of Thanksgiving is that there are as many ways to celebrate it as there are families. Over the years what started out as a simple get-together between early European settlers and their Native American neighbors has taken on a life of its own.
Let’s take a look at how some things have changed.
It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without the turkey, but it wasn’t a big part of the first feast back in 1621. Legend has it that the Wampanoag tribe provided five deer to the event. Even later on, Americans were just as likely to eat pork, goose, duck or beef. American writer Sarah Josepha Hale started a campaign during the mid-nineteenth century to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, but that didn’t happen for more than 60 year after her death. More importantly for food lovers, she also published recipes for turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie that helped the meal we all know and love take on its current form.
Another thing about Thanksgiving is that unlike other holidays, you don’t have to check a calendar to find out which day it’s on. It’s the fourth Thursday of November. Simple enough, right? Well, not in the old days. It wasn’t until Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a bill in 1941 declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday that the date became permanent. FDR himself was responsible for some of the earlier confusion. In an attempt to boost retail sales during the depression, the president decided to move Thanksgiving up a week. It resulted in a national uproar and the holiday being derisively referred to as ‘Franksgiving.’
It’s hard to separate football from Thanksgiving. In fact, this is one area where the tradition hasn’t changed all that much. Football was played on Thanksgiving even before it resembled anything like the modern game. The first recorded match took place on Thanksgiving of 1869 in the city of Philadelphia. Professional football wasted no time getting into the act, with the first games taking place in 1920, the same year the league was formed. With the exception of a few years during World War II, no Thanksgiving has passed without the clack of helmets on the gridiron.
Thanksgiving is still a time for family and fun, and here’s hoping that part of the tradition never changes. So whatever plans you and your family have, enjoy a safe and blessed holiday.