Thanksgiving – The feast of Fall, Family and Food
When we think about Thanksgiving, we usually have the same pictures in our minds – such as a big dinner, a family reunion and lots of laughters. But actually, do we know where this feast comes from?
Long time ago, in 1620 to be precise, the Pilgrims (the english colonists) went to North America with the sailing vessel called Mayflower. They arrived in the “New World” during the winter, so it was difficult for them to survive as the 2 month trip on the boat has already weakened them. They got help from the local community called Wampanoag, which was living in the Massachussets area and their chef was Massasoit (it is actually a title, like Great Sachem).
So, when was the first Thanksgiving feast ever? About 10 months after their arrival, the Pilgrims built a little village and after the first period of sickness and scarcity, they wanted to show their gratitude towards God and celebrate this. It was in autumn 1621, and the Pilgrims and Wampanoag celebrated the successful harvest on the colony’s side. Concerning the Wapanoag, “Giving thanks” for the Creator’s gifts was a part of their life; for example, they held ceremonies in case of successful harvests and to pray for the following ones. Giving thanks was (and still is) the primarly reason of celebrations. So the national american holiday really is coming from this feast, even if the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag were not particularly identified with Thanksgiving until about 1900!
It would be interesting to know how they actually celebrated it, no? Forget about turkey, at that time they ate duck, venison, seafood ad cabage; cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes weren’t invented already! Some meals were shared between the two groups, other not. But it was not only about eating, they were days of praying as well. The Pilgrims actually celebrated Thanksgiving as part of their religion.
The first national Thanksgiving was proclaimed only in 1777. In 19850, almost every state celebrated this feast. Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, children were teached about American Freedom and the way of being good citizens by using the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving as example.
Nowadays, Thanksgiving is a feast where food and family are the main stage. It’s a blend of two different traditions: on one side, the New England feats of celebrating a successful harvest and on the other side the Puritan Thanksgiving which combines praying and feasting. Did you know that the sunday following Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year in the United States – because Thanksgiving is a holiday about “going home”. The menu is usually composed of turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie and root vegetables (it is by the way based on New England fall harvests).
Happy Thanksgiving to our American Blommers (and to everybody actually!), and keep Blomming!