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Thursday, November 28, 2013

D-Xirable Holiday! Thanksgiving! Part 1: History and Facts

Hello my wonderful and amazing loves,

Today is Thanksgiving! It's a holiday celebrated in the United States where we spend time with our loved ones and give thanks for the things that we have in our lives.

So, in honor of Thanksgiving celebrated here in the United States, I will be doing a 2 part post. The first post will be about Thanksgiving facts and history, while the second post will be about the people and things that I'm thankful for.

Thanksgiving: The Holiday

Thanksgiving Day (Jour de l'Action de grĂ¢ce in Canadian French) is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.

Thanksgiving History/Facts:

Most Americans are familiar with the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving Feast of 1621, but few realize that it was not the first festival of its kind in North America. Long before Europeans set foot in the Americas, native people sought to insure a good harvest with dances and rituals such as the Green Corn Dance of the Cherokees.
Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620's and 1630's carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England.

In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. 

Although prayers and thanks were probably offered at the 1621 harvest gathering, the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth happened two years later in 1623. On this occasion, the colonists gave thanks to God for rain after a two-month drought.
Several days of Thanksgiving were held in early New England history that have been identified as the "First Thanksgiving", including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.

It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. President Abraham Lincoln declared two national Thanksgivings; one in August to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg and the other in November to give thanks for "general blessings."

Thanksgiving In the United States:

Thanksgiving is particularly an American holiday. The word evokes images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and, of course, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, the acknowledged founders of the feast.

Despite modern-age turmoil—and perhaps, even more so, because of it—gathering together in grateful appreciation for a Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family is a deeply meaningful and comforting annual ritual to most Americans. The need to connect with loved ones and to express our gratitude is at the heart of all this feasting, prayerful thanks, recreation, and nostalgia for a simpler time. And somewhere in the bustling activity of every November's Thanksgiving is the abiding National memory of a moment in Plymouth, nearly 400 years ago, when two distinct cultures, on the brink of profound and irrevocable change, shared an autumn feast.

Today, Thanksgiving is a time when many families come together, and many churches are open for special services. We have both Native Americans and immigrants to thank for the opportunity to observe a day of thanksgiving.

Native Americans and Thanksgiving:

(Although I initially didn't want to include this into my post because I'm part Native American, and yet I still partake in Thanksgiving, I felt that it was still important for me to include this fact. Given the tragic, cruel, and bloody history of Native Americans in America, it's understandable why Native Americans wouldn't/will not partake in Thanksgiving.)

There were approximately fifty pilgrims and ninety Wampanoag including chief Massasoit. The celebration lasted for three days. Each day was filled with good food, entertainment, and spirit. The pilgrims supplied food they had harvested that year. The Wampanoag brought five hunted deer. Although this was a day of thanks for the pilgrims it was not considered like one of our present day thanksgivings. In fact the first official thanksgiving happened in 1623. The Wampanoag were almost the exact opposite for they had been celebrating their thanks for numerous years previous. The thanksgiving of 1621 was a great meeting between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag and promised piece for the time being, although the piece between these two groups would not last forever.

The peace between the Native Americans and settlers lasted for only a generation. The Wampanoag people do not share in the popular reverence for the traditional New England Thanksgiving. For them, the holiday is a reminder of betrayal and bloodshed. Since 1970, many native people have gathered at the statue of Massasoit in Plymouth, Massachusetts each Thanksgiving Day to remember their ancestors and the strength of the Wampanoag.

Hope you enjoyed learning about the facts and history of Thanksgiving! My next post will be about the people and things that I'm thankful for! :)

With love,
LaTasha B.

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