Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Has the celebration of Thanksgiving always been on the fourth Thursday in November? The answer is No. The date was changed to make a longer shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 1863 President Lincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. In 1939 it was moved to the second-to-last Thursday. Then in 1941 it was moved to the fourth Thursday.

There are many myths and historical oddities connected with Thanksgiving. Did you know the Mayflower was headed for Virginia but, oops, it ended up in Massachusetts?

And Indians were not invited to the celebration. A large group of men just showed up--the 17th-century version of party crashers. There were probably twice as many Indians as Pilgrims, so it seems unlikely the Pilgrims would have asked them to leave. Unfortunately, no one is sure why they came. Perhaps they heard the musket shots and were curious. But they did bring deer to eat. No popcorn, though. It wasn't even grown in New England then. But Indian corn was, and it was probably dried, pounded and cooked into a porridge. They probably ate waterfowl and turkeys, too, all living in the wild. Also available were fish, squash, cabbage, carrots, turnips, spinach and onions. No potatoes--they were still grown only in South America. Although cranberries were growing nearby, no records show they were cooked and eaten until the 1670s.

Forget the black clothes, too. Pilgrim women wore green, blue and purple. Men liked red linings in their cloaks. And they didn't have buckles on their shoes and hats. Buckles were not in style till years later. Next time you see a painting of the first Thanksgiving, look carefully. An iron cooking pot was really used; it may even be the one that survives in a museum. But there were no log cabins. They were built by Swedes who came 18 years later.


sofyblu2 said...

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you at Kovel's. Many thanks for years of great service you've given us all. I realize that you will be one person short at the table this year but Ralph will always be with us!

All I know about Thanksgiving is that it is the start of the biggest sales of the season. I hope that we all will be Thankful for our customers!

If anybody gets "bored" over the long weekend come vist us at Bonanazle - sitewide we're having all kinds of sales!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the background facts about Thanksgiving! I cut & pasted the article and printed it out to share with my family on Thursday. I learned some things I didn't know about the holiday, and thought everyone else would too!

Jane said...

It was a
"thanksgiving" for the settlers...Definitely not one for the Indians...

Anonymous said...

I just learned from my parents (who are in their mid-80's) that Thanksgiving Day was their Halloween. When they were children, there was no Halloween. However, on Thanksgiving Day, children would dress up in tattered clothing and go door to door begging "Something for Thanksgiving?" Children would receive some small food item, like a bisquit or cookie. I don't know if this was a custom only in NYC, where they were raised, or if it was common elsewhere. Neither of them had any idea how this custom got started. I would like to know if anyone else has ever heard of this.