Thanksgiving is one of the biggest and most anticipated of all American holidays. Observed annually on the last Thursday of November, the secular celebration, which marks the beginning of the holiday season, can be traced to a harvest feast enjoyed by the early European settlers, or Pilgrims, and Native Americans. Even though food is the centerpiece of the celebration, many other fun traditions have been added since. This year its being celebrated on 23rd November, 2017.
When was the first thanksgiving celebrated and why?
The first Thanksgiving feast was organized by Governor William Bradford in 1621 to celebrate the Pilgrims’ inaugural harvest.
The first attempt to unify the various celebrations came in 1789 when George Washington suggested a national day of Thanksgiving.
Why celebrated on a Thursday?
November is the month of choice because it was when the original feast was organized by the Pilgrims. It also happens to be right after the US harvest season. There appears to be no real significance to Thursday, except that it was the day picked by President Lincoln. However, it is perfect because it allows for an extended weekend enabling families to take road trips to celebrate the holiday together.
How did Turkey become the centerpiece of dinner?
According to two separate accounts of the first Thanksgiving, the Native Americans and Pilgrims feasted on goose, lobster, cod, and deer. Some believe turkeys were selected because they were cheaper than geese or chickens and easier to raise. Others think the tradition stems from a mention of the bird in a letter describing the first Thanksgiving by Pilgrim Edward Winslow. Some credit also goes to Hale, who urged officials to make the bird a Thanksgiving staple while petitioning for the holiday. US President Abraham Lincoln, who loved roasted turkey agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Competing to crack the turkey’s wishbone in half is a popular Thanksgiving tradition. According to the myth, the person with the larger piece gets his/her secret wish fulfilled. This fun ritual is thought to have been passed on to us by the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization.
The thanksgiving football!
This Thanksgiving tradition started when the American Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA) staged the championship game between Yale and Princeton on the day in 1876. It was such a success that it became a holiday staple.
Happy thanksgiving and turkey day!