Halloween is over and Christmas decorations are up all over in the stores. What happened to Thanksgiving?
Yes, everyone loves Christmas, a time to celebrate love, peace, sing songs about a new-born king….but let’s face it, it’s mostly about PRESENTS!! And I’ll tell you a little more about that later.
So ok, what is Thanksgiving? It’s a day the family gets together to over eat, watch football and get into political arguments, where someone in the family gets angry, hurt or embarrassed am I right? Well, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way if you take Thanksgiving the way it was meant to be.
Thanksgiving started out as a religious celebration with feasts and thanking God for the MANY blessings He had given. Actually, the first noted Thanksgiving wasn’t at Plymouth Rock, it was in the 16th century conducted by the Spaniards and French.
Thanksgiving services were routine in Common Wealth Virginia as early as 1607. Jamestown, the 1st permanent settlement held a Thanksgiving celebration in 1610.
The “First Thanksgiving” that we all learned about in school and by watching Charlie Brown, was held in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation. The Pilgrims had a celebration after a bountiful harvest. The celebration lasted 3 days and took place somewhere between September 21-November 11. The celebration was held by the 50 survivors from the Mayflower and 90 Native Americans. The feast was cooked by the 4 surviving adult women and daughters and the help of servants. It consisted of fish, water fowl, turkeys, venison and Indian corn.
In 1789, George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving day to be celebrated Thursday the 26th of November. Then in 1795, he proclaimed the day to be February 19th.
Thomas Jefferson chose NOT to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday was removed during his term as president. Madison renewed the tradition in 1814 at the close of the War of 1812. Once again the holiday was declared as a holiday “for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” and held on November 25, 1814.
In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a federal holiday as a proclaimed national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”. Once again, the celebration was to be held the last Thursday of November. Since then Thanksgiving has been observed annually in America.
During the late 1800’s, Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from one region to another. A traditional New England Thanksgiving consisted of a raffle held on Thanksgiving eve for prizes such as a turkey or a goose. A shooting match on thanksgiving morning was held as were church services. The traditional feast included turkey and pumpkin pie.
Guess what showed up on the scene also in the late 1800’s?? FOOTBALL!! First the games were high school games played in Massachusetts. Pro-football took center stage in the 1890’s and the football tradition goes on today.
In New York City, people would dress up in fancy masks and costumes and roam the streets in “merry-making” mobs. In the beginning of the 20th century, this turned into what they called Ragamuffin Parades. Children would dress in ragged adult clothes.
In 1920, Philadelphia kicked off the season with the Gimbel’s parade.
In 1924, Detroit started a parade. Today it is one of the largest parades in the country. It is always followed by the annual Detroit Lions football game.
Also in 1924, the Macy’s day parade began. The parade is filled with floats and big balloon characters. The last float of the parade features Santa and the kick off to the Christmas holiday.
Then in 1939, President Roosevelt broke the tradition once more and declared Thanksgiving to be the 4th Thursday of the month, instead of the last Thursday, that is when the month happens to have 5 Thursdays. WHY??
The country was in the Great Depression at the time. With the push of Fred Lazarus Jr., the founder of Federated Department Stores ( later Macy’s), he had the President believe that an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell products before Christmas and increase their profits. With the extra profits and the extra spending it would help the country out of the depression. Needless to say, at this point in time, advertising Christmas before Thanksgiving was thought to be inappropriate!
So here we are 80 years later, the Christmas decorations in the stores are put up in October! Leave it to the department stores to push spending and take the joy out of Christmas and total ignore Thanksgiving.
Anyway, in 1941, Thanksgiving was FINALLY signed into law and declared to be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November.
Let’s always remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a time to thank God for the blessings in your life. Your family, your health, your home, job, car, money, animals…! Even if you don’t think you are blessed with the job you want or a house you don’t like, or that cell phone that’s outdated…take a step back and think of the people who would give anything to have a job or a roof over their heads or even someone to talk to. Also, be thankful for the little things that mean so much…a smile, a flower, a sunset, the rain, or that penny you found in the parking lot!!
Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday, it should be an everyday celebration!
I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday!!