Nov 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

pic from Epicurious

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Here are some interesting Thanksgiving facts from Today I Found Out... to share with your family and friends while you sit around and digest your big meal:

1. The author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was largely responsible for the establishment of the national Thanksgiving Holiday.  Sarah Joseph Hale campaigned for nearly 20 years and through five presidencies, until October 3rd, 1863 when President Lincoln decided to heed her request and declare the last Thursday in November as a national Thanksgiving holiday, which it became that same year.

2. The date of Thanksgiving was once changed to try and boost the economy.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the traditional date of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the second to last Thursday in November in 1939, 1940, and 1941, in order to extend the Christmas shopping season by a week.  It was after these (failed) attempts that Congress decided to set the date of Thanksgiving into U.S. law  in 1941 - declaring the holiday to fall on the fourth Thursday of November.

3. One of the main reasons we eat what we eat on Thanksgiving - turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes - is because Sarah Joseph Hale had written numerous editorials that were widely circulated outlining various recipes to be used for Thanksgiving dinner.  She was a lady on a mission!  Today about 280 million turkeys are sold annually for Thanksgiving ($3 Billion in sales) and 20% of all cranberries that are consumed in the U.S. per year are eaten on Thanksgiving.

4. The only items that are known to be served on the first Thanksgiving were deer, various types of fowl, corn, cod, bass, and shellfish.

5. Thanksgiving holidays were once commonly celebrated throughout the year by Europeans and Americans. It was once common in England and many parts of Europe to set aside days of thanks to God.  This same practice would have been brought to America by the Pilgrims in 1620 - so any time a good crop would come in, when a drought would end, at the end of a harsh winter, or when a supply ship arrived, a day of thanks was probably set aside to thank God for his blessings.  Sounds like a wonderful practice for us to revisit today.

6. The first record of the term "Pilgrims" appeared in William Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation".  In this document, he used biblical imagery to describe the Pilgrim's departure from England in 1620.

7. Only half of the people on the Mayflower were Pilgrims.  Of the 102 people on the Mayflower, only about half of them were what have traditionally come to be known as Pilgrims.  The others, which are called "Strangers" were just hitching a ride to the New World.

8. Everything known about the first Thanksgiving comes from two brief passages: the first, a letter by a Pilgrim named Edward Winslow who wrote to a friend in December of 1621 describing the harvest festival, and the second, a passage from "On Plymoth Plantation" written by William Bradford about 20 years after the event occurred.  They were both first hand accounts that can be found here.

From my family to yours - may you have a day full of blessing in remembrance of all the wonderful things God has done in your life.  I hope you're in the company of dear family and friends, and I ask that you don't forget our service men and women who are overseas and apart from their families on this holiday.  Keep them and their families in your prayers everyday and especially on family holidays like these.  I am so thankful that they do what they do, so willingly and selflessly, so that we may all experience the beautiful freedoms that God has endowed upon us. How privileged we are to live as Americans, in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Eat, drink, be merry, and share your love with those you hold dear and strangers alike!  -Kristen


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