November 11, 2011
As the holiday season approaches (ok, it's here), I'm always reminded of traditions. Everyone has them, even if your tradition is just spending time with family. There are several that we have adopted as a culture over time, so I thought I would highlight some of them.
Thanksgiving, as most of us know, originated when the Pilgrims landed in the New World and cooperated with the Native Americans. Over the years, it has come to include things that were not quite as important in 1621 (the year of the first Thanksgiving). Our ancestors might have thought we were crazy if we told them about football and Black Friday! In fact, it wasn't declared a national holiday until 1863 (in the middle of the Civil War no less) by President Lincoln. Historians aren't even sure if turkey was a part of the original feast, but it certainly is now; over 90% of U.S. families celebrate with one on their table. Some other foods that may appear at your holiday meal: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pie!
Two NFL (National Football League) teams play on Thanksgiving Day every year. Any guesses as to when that tradition started? The Detroit Lions have played every Thanksgiving since 1934 (with the exception of the years of WWII), and the Dallas Cowboys have hosted a game every year since 1966 (with the exception of 1975 and 1977).
Another recent tradition is the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Begun in 1924, it attracts two to three million people to a two and a half mile route in New York City every year. Floats have gotten more and more elaborate. And, who could forget the giant balloons?
Feasts of thanksgiving are not new. They held similar celebrations in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It also resembles the Jewish festival of Sukkot, a harvest festival. Even the Native Americans held harvest feasts long before the Pilgrims came along. Harvest celebrations are common in most cultures. In China, they have celebrated the Harvest Moon for over 3000 years (although the number varies depending on the source)!
What are some of your family traditions? At my house, we have at least two big meals (one for each side of the family). It's a time to get together and catch up. We are big pie fans, and we take our baking very seriously. It's rare to see less than six pies, with at least three pumpkin: homemade pie crust and freshly whipped cream. That's what I'm talking about! I am looking forward to a long weekend with loved ones, and planning to gain at least five pounds.
South Independence Branch