Thanksgiving is on Thursday. Do you have any exciting plans, or perhaps a favorite food you cannot wait to sample? (Hello pumpkin pie!)
Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is a day of thanks in celebration of the harvest and blessings received in the last year. Did you know that it has quite an interesting backstory?
What Americans think of Thanksgiving today is very different from what is widely considered the first Thanksgiving, in 1621. That year, members of the Wampanoag joined English colonists for a days long feast, military exercises, and contests. What exactly the feast consisted of is something of a mystery (sadly, no photographs!) but certainly did not resemble today’s turkey feasts. The Wampanoag brought venison (game meat, especially deer) and other choices might have included fish and vegetables. 1621 was certainly not the first Thanksgiving. Native peoples had long celebrated the harvest with dances and rituals.
Thanksgiving was then celebrated on and off after 1621 but it was not until a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale took up the cause that Thanksgiving became an annual tradition. Hale spent 36 (!) years campaigning until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day in 1863. Interested in learning more? Check out the backstory on Britannica Reference Center, one of the library’s databases. You can access it for free with your library card!
Do you have any annual Thanksgiving traditions? Perhaps you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Break and make a wish on a turkey’s wishbone? Pardon your own turkey like the President? Or tofurkey, like Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Help the less fortunate by volunteering at shelters or donating food? (View a list of holiday resources at King County 211.)
Whatever you do, enjoy your Thanksgiving!