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We hope that you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving where ever you are. The U.S. Government hopes so as well -— and has a page of interesting Thanksgiving information. It has facts and statistics (768 million pounds of cranberries!), alternative ways to cook your turkey (you can deep fat fry a whole turkey!), and recipes from famous Americans (Mrs. Truman’s mac and cheese sounds delicious or maybe you want to try Mamie Eisenhower's million dollar fudge).
Mmmm, you can almost smell the turkey roasting. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and millions of Americans are making plans to visit friends and family for the holiday. Sure, the travel can be a hassle, but when you put it in perspective -- say, over the course of half a century -- it's safe to say the tradition is worth the trouble.
Consider, for example, the Travelers -- John, Jane and the twins -- a family of four who are about to hop in the car and head to Grandma's. It's a 100-mile trip each way; there will be dinner for 10 with all the fixings; and because Grandma and Grandpa like their postprandial privacy, a night in a hotel.
From the cost of going to the cultural zeitgeist, a lot has changed in 50 years. To see how, click on the dates displayed here.
If you guessed "Plymouth Colonists," you might be surprised. These celebrations predate the Plymouth colonists and their feast of gratitude in 1621 --
In May 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 1,500 men celebrated at the Palo Dur Canyon -- located in the modern-day Texas Panhandle -- after their expedition from Mexico City in search of gold. In 1959 the Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists commemorated the event as the "first Thanksgiving."
Another "first Thanksgiving" occurred on June 30, 1564, when French Huguenot colonists celebrated in a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida. This "first Thanksgiving," was later commemorated at the Fort Carolina Memorial on the St. Johns River in eastern Jacksonville.
The harsh winter of 1609-1610 generated a famine that caused the deaths of 430 of the 490 settlers. In the spring of 1610, colonists in Jamestown, Virginia, enjoyed a Thanksgiving service after English supply ships arrived with food. This colonial celebration has also been considered the "first Thanksgiving." (Source: Library of Congress -- Wise Guide)
First Thanksgiving in Massachusetts
"In 1620, the area from Narragansett Bay in eastern Rhode Island to the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, was the home of a village people who called themselves the Pokanoket ..."
The "First Thanksgiving" celebrated by the Plymouth Colonists was based on customs that the immigrants brought with them. The Indian contribution to the event was the menu. Roast wild duck, goose and turkey, venison made into pies with corn meal crusts, were Indian food. The robust ale, made from their one successful English crop of barley was the main non-native food. The three day feast symbolizes a rarely achieved relationship of peaceful coexistence between Indians and Europeans in the 17th century. (Source: National Museum of American Indians -- Harvest Ceremony: Study Guide)
For more information, visit You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving sponsored by the Plimoth Plantation Museum : Learn about being a historian by investigating the cultures of the Wampanoag Indians and the pilgrim colonists at the first Thanksgiving feast. (Flash is required.)
Remember the first Thanksgiving? American school kids are taught the story of how, in 1621, the Indian called Squanto helped the Pilgrim settlers in Plymouth survive by teaching them Native skills, such as the best method for growing corn. Thus was born the great autumn feast of thanks. But recent scholarly research is overturning the conventional understanding of Indians' relations with the settlers. In an excerpt from his new book, 1491, Charles C. Mann surveys this emerging view, which suggests that the Native Americans were far more sophisticated than previously believed-and yet at the mercy of forces that abetted the settlers' ambitions.
For the full article, see Charles C. Mann, "Squanto and the Pilgrims: Native Intelligence", Smithsonian Magazine, December 2005.
Click Here for a photo collection from past parades.
2012 Thanksgiving Parade will be the 86th! : "America's Thanksgiving Parade to be lineup of dazzling delights", Detroit Free Press, November 22, 2011
It is hard to grow up in Michigan and not have at least seen or heard the Detroit Lions playing on Thanksgiving afternoon. Detroit has played in every Thanksgiving game since 1934. Like turkey, it’s a tradition. But why Detroit?
For the full article, see Mark Harvey, "Gobblers and The Gridiron", Archives of Michigan, November 23, 2010.
Doug Warren, "Lions, Bears, and the First Thanksgiving", THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 25, No. 6 (2003)
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