Today, we will not try to entice you to buy our products, introduce a new line of makeup, or give you advice on how to decorate your holiday table. Today, we would simply like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and give you a small history on this great American holiday.
Though the exact dates may be a bit off, it is known that in the fall of 1621 (some sources say it was 1620, right after the Mayflower docked) Plymouth colonists and American Indians shared a dinner. The reason was the colonists’ arriving to what is today known as the USA, and the Indians wanting to welcome the newcomers. Both parties brought what they could to the table and it turned out to be a real feast. We will not get into the details of the course of history after this milestone dinner, as they can be quite upsetting, but will talk about a traditional Thanksgiving menu and its origins.
The First Thanksgiving dinner did not include mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, or turkey. In 1621, the potato has not yet made it to North America (though it originated in South America, it was a delicacy among the Europeans and was not readily available to colonists). There were cranberries, but sugar was very expensive and couldn’t be used for such things as cranberry sauce. There were also pumpkins, but no flour and, again, sugar, so pumpkin pies were not yet made. As far as turkey – the star of Thanksgiving dinner – it did originate in South America, and was present in North America at the time, but there is a lot of evidence that states that for the First Thanksgiving dinner colonists hunted seasonal waterfowl, like ducks and geese, not turkeys.
It’s easy to say what was not on the table during the First Thanksgiving, but is a bit harder to determine what was served. We know that it was waterfowl, corn and stuffing (made from herbs, onions and starches), but have no evidence of much more. Mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, turkey and ham appeared on the Thanksgiving table later, as all these foods became more and more available to the colonists. We also know that what we now consider to be the traditional Thanksgiving dinner dates to the 19th century (more than 200 years after the First Thanksgiving dinner) and reflects holiday traditions of the Victorians, who were nostalgic for a time of family, home, and community, and did not like the drastic change that came with moving to America.
Later, religion and harvest were tied to Thanksgiving. Today, many believe that Thanksgiving is a way to say “Thank you!” to God for abundant harvest. However, Thanksgiving did not originate for that reason. In fact, harvest was collected much earlier than November in New England and if it were the reason for the feast, Thanksgiving would have been celebrated in the early fall.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated the third Thursday of November. It seems that his main reasoning was to unite people in the midst of the Civil War that was tearing America apart.
Today, Thanksgiving is mainly a secular holiday and is a reason for families to get together, eat good food, and relax. It is known as the time when you can feel peaceful and protected among the ones you love.
So, a day before you lose yourself in the wonderful atmosphere of Thanksgiving, we want to remind you that there is nothing more important than family and friends. May you have a great holiday and have more opportunities to be with the people most significant to you than just a few times a year.