History of Thanksgiving
The celebration of Thanksgiving has its roots in the harvest festivals of Europe. The story of Thanksgiving told to school children is the story of Pilgrims sailing to Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, to escape religious persecution in England. Captain Christopher Jones led the newly arrived English colonists to the James River and instructed them to drop to their knees and pray in thanks for a safe arrival to the New World.
The Pilgrims and native Americans celebrated with a harvest feast similar to what they had in England. The recipes included "corn" (wheat, by the Pilgrims usage of the word), Indian corn, barley, pumpkins and peas, fowl, deer, and fish. And, of course, yummy wild turkey.
The story of the Mayflower colony celebrating to thank the Native Americans for showing them how to catch eel and grow crops helping them survive is a legendary story. Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be shared among the Native Americans and Pilgrims for helping them survive that first difficult year. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.
In 1817, New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then, each president issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Thanksgiving Day is presently celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. This date was set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941). Earlier, it was the last Thursday in November as was designated by the former President Abraham Lincoln. But sometimes the last Thursday would turn out to be the fifth Thursday of the month. This falls too close to Christmas, resulting in less time for holiday shopping and leaving the businesses less time to cope with the two big festivals. Hence the change.
Today, Thanksgiving Day is a day for reunion of family and friends expressing love, thanks and appreciation to God and to each other in their life. On Thanksgiving Day, it has become customary to thank all of them.
Prayer Thanksgiving Day is associated with prayer. In church and at home, people offer prayers especially at mealtime. It is the tradition to thank God for all his blessings and a time to show gratitude to friends and relatives for their love and generosity.
Family Meal Thanksgiving dinner is the highlight of the celebration. Relatives come to be with family at a time when distance doesn't seem to matter. Dinner is usually held at the home of parents or grandparents with turkey as the traditional dish.
Gifts for Thanksgiving
The practice of gift giving on Thankgiving has grown in popularity as a way to show appreciation and thanks for blessings received. Here are some of the more popular Thanksgiving gift ideas:
Greeting cards Thanksgiving is a day when people send greeting cards with loving messages and warm wishes and themes of thanksgiving to their relatives and friends both near and far away.
Food and Wine Gifts of food and wine packaged creatively in baskets, cornucopias filled with fruit, pumpkin pies and apple cider top the list.
Fall Themed Dishes To spruce up the dinner table, dishes and serving pieces with themes of fall are fun and festive. For those invited to dine with others, consider taking your signature dish in one of these dishes, leaving the dish as your gift, a practice known as Lagniappe, 'a little something extra'.
Fall Themed Home Décor Thanksgiving is a time to decorate homes. Fall wreaths, fresh or dried flowers, and centerpieces for the Thanksgiving table are always welcome.
The size of the gift does not matter, it is the warm sentiment conveyed that really counts. So go ahead and share the blessings of God with your friends, family, relatives and loved ones.
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