As long as I can remember my family has always had food on the table and a family gathering on the fourth November in our home. We have all heard elementary stories of wood cabins and the Pilgrims and Indians celebrating thanksgiving. Though, I never knew the reason they were celebrating. Today as Thanksgiving is closely approaching, I am going to talk to you about the history of Thanksgiving, its traditions, and how our era and personal preferences influence the traditions in our celebrations. First let’s start by learning the origination of the Thanksgiving holiday. I. According to Caleb Johnson’s The Mayflower, “The pilgrim’s gave thanks in 1621 (the actual date unknown) for the first time.” A. In this article he has a published Plimouth letter. This letter gives us insight as to why they celebrated a day of thanks and with what foods.
B. This being that the pilgrims had a scarce crop the years before that had led to sickness and death. The foods they celebrated with was a variety of foods from their crop, many fish, and wildlife animals. So because in the year of 1621 their crops group plentiful, the people of Plimouth decided give thanks to god for their year of blossoming crops. So they celebrated with food and thanks for 3 days.
C. This is also the only known account of the Plimouth’s celebration for years to come. The next account was some twenty years later in a published article by William Bradford.
So how did a National Holiday come into effect? Why the fourth Thursday?
II. The years leading up to a National Holiday
A. The Continental Congress proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving in 1777. Yet, Presidents Washington, Adams and Monroe proclaimed national Thanksgivings, but the custom fell out of use by 1815, after which the celebration of the holiday was limited to individual state observances.
B. By the 1850s, almost every state and territory celebrated Thanksgiving.
C. The plimoth.org site states, “In 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale began a campaign to reinstate the holiday after the model of the first Presidents. She publicly petitioned several Presidents to make it an annual event. Though her efforts did not succeeded until 1863, when she convinced President Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving might serve to unite a war-torn country.”
D. According to History.com it was not until 1941 that the fourth Thursday of November be the permanent date for thanksgiving.
Where does a turkey come into play? What are the traditions of this Holiday?
III. Thanksgiving traditions and how they came into effect.
A. The simplest tradition of Thanksgiving is to come together and give thanks.
B. Thanksgiving is also known as Turkey Day. Why? Well according to slate.com, Turkeys just so happened to not have anything to do with the first Thanksgiving. They were fresh, affordable, and big enough to feed a crowd. Among the big birds, turkey was ideal for a fall feast.
C. By 1863, when Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday, turkeys had taken center stage at Thanksgiving.
IV. In this era we have added a few Thanksgiving traditions. A. Alder says, “Pro football has become as big a tradition at Thanksgiving as the turkey and if your Thanksgiving celebrations are like mine, most of the football fans head right for the television as soon as they hit the door.”
B. According to USA today, “A little more than 60 years after the holiday’s formal recognition, another tradition was born: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Started in 1924, the department store’s first parade included actual animals from the Central Park Zoo.”
C. Thanksgiving traditions don’t end on Thanksgiving Day. In the 1950s, the day after Thanksgiving was called Black Friday by factory managers because so many workers called in sick and the Philadelphia Police Department took to calling the day Black Friday to describe the traffic jams, crowds and shoplifters during the start of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday signals the start of the holiday shopping season, but it may be a tradition that’s continuing to evolve as stores vie to be the earliest to open Thanksgiving Day.
In conclusion, the history of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621. It takes many years before it becomes a permanent national holiday for the American society. Throughout the years Americans have in cooperated new traditions as well as maintained the old. As O. Henry says, “There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”