Thanksgiving Day, the date peculiarly American, was first held in 1621 by the settlers of Plymouth Colony. These settlers, who later were called Pilgrims, left England because they wanted to separate from the established church and worship God in his own way. After leaving England, the Pilgrims settled in Holland in 1608.
Finally in 1620 they embarked on the “Mayflower” seeking religious freedom in the New World. The original destination was the Jamestown Colony, Virginia, but a storm put them out of their path and finally arrived in November 1620 to north of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The first winter was of great hardship for the settlers, since more than half the colony died from hunger and disease. However, those who survived continued to fight and spring planted his first corn crop.
Corn Squanto, an Indian warrior, befriended them, and taught the colonists how to plant and grow corn, and helped to establish good relations with the neighboring Indian tribes. In the fall of 1621, after a good harvest, Governor Bradford proclaimed “a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for us in a more special manner rejoice after collecting the fruit of our work.”
In a gesture of friendship, the Pilgrims invited the Indians to neighbors together a party, which shared turkeys and geese, corn, lobster, clams, squash, pumpkins and dried fruits.
Due to a poor harvest and problems with the Indians, it was not possible to celebrate the Thanksgiving Day the following year. However, in 1623 the Governor Bradford proclaimed July 30 as the Day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the end of a long period of drought.
THANKSGIVING DAY: FIRST CELEBRATION
By 1623 the Day of Thanksgiving was irregular and usually set on a regional basis. However, in 1789, shortly after the thirteen colonies had joined President George Washington an agreement was presented to Congress to hold a national day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.” The resolution was approved and the first National Day of Thanksgiving was held on November 26, 1789. In the corresponding proclamation George Washington urged Americans to give thanks to God for his protection, for victory in the struggle for freedom and for peace and prosperity in the new country.
During the following years there was still no annual national celebration of the holiday. In 1846, Ms. However Sarah Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady Book, a magazine for women, launched a campaign to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. After nine years he achieved his goal and Thanksgiving Day was designated a national holiday, just before the Civil War began.
On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, issued the first proclamation of Thanksgiving Day since 1789. From the time of Lincoln, every year the President has proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.
The general pattern of this celebration has also remained the same since the nineteenth century. The menu, with any regional variation, usually consists of baked stuffed turkey, cranberries, a dish made of corn, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies. Today, Thanksgiving Day remains a holiday during which American families gather to share the fruits of an abundant harvest and to thank God for his blessings on their land.
THANKSGIVING DAY MENU
Baked stuffed turkey, onions cream, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, roasted pumpkin, sweet potatoes, plum pudding, mince pie walnut, cranberry juice, milk, coffee.
Turkey. It was chosen by the British immigrants to celebrate their first Thanksgiving dinner for the first harvest in their new land of freedom. Since it is the first day until now, the turkey is an essential element in this celebration.
Corn. The use of corn represents the survival of colonies. Corn cultivation was very important for the Pilgrims and the indigenous natives. It was the main course and in all food consumed. There were many varieties of corn: white, blue, yellow and red.
Some amount of corn was dried to preserve it and keep it as food for the winter months. Corn threshing always to cornmeal, which could be used to make bread pudding, syrup, or could be mixed with beans to make succotash (corn cooking whole grains).
The Pilgrims did not know the corn before meeting the Indians. The Indians gave the Pilgrims seeds and taught them how to cultivate it. Currently the, United States’ hectares of maize are grown more than any other grain.
Pumpkin. Pumpkin is an American food that fed the Native American territory for more than five thousand years. He also complemented the nutrition of the early settlers, who incorporated this plant as an important part of their diet.
Most winter squashes are harvested when they are ripe, that is, when the shell is hard and can not eat. Because the shell protection, these pumpkins are harvested in the fall and stored for several months during the winter in a cool, dry place. Many pumpkins are available throughout the year but the most available time is during late summer, autumn and winter, becoming more scarce in the spring.
Cranberry sauce. It was served on the first day of Thanksgiving and continues to serve today. The cranberry is an acid / sour berry, from North American continent. The settlers found wild throughout the northeastern US plus-central area, when they expanded westward.
Originally they called it “craneberry” due to the shape of the flower that was similar to the head and neck of a heron (crane), or because often watched herons eating this fruit. Eventually he missed the “e”, resulting in the name of cranberry.