In 1620 Pilgrims fled the Church of England in search of religious freedom. Little did they know when this journey would bring America a traditional holiday just over 200 years later celebrated every last Thursday of the month.
When the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock they had no idea what the new world would offer them. Unfortunately they suffered from the harsh winter and failed crops resulting in many settlers perishing.
If it were not for an American Indian, Squanto and his people coming to the rescue many more may have not survived. The Indian’s taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn, squash and beans. By 1621 their crops were abundant and they shared their wealth with the Indians for a Harvest Celebration today known as Thanksgiving.
This harvest celebration was not for only one day, these people knew how to throw a party. The celebration went on for 3 days of feasting and games. Did they have Turkey? Yes, Wild Turkey and more than likely their feast consisted of Goose, Rabbit, Lobster and Codfish.. For the Pilgrims Wild Turkey was easy to hunt because they were in abundance and large in size. Even though they could fly, they could not fly very far.
They would have cooked their meat on over an open fire with a spit, a rod that would rotate on a frame with the help of someone turning the meat until cooked. They also had pots that could hang from the frame to simmer and cook the side dishes.
Over the years the other meats they had at their feast became scarce or very expensive. The Turkey remained the ideal meat to serve at Thanksgiving because not only is it affordable but low in calories, highly nutritious and delicious.
While we set out out best Chinaware for our table, the pilgrims ate from wooden plates, with spoons, knives and their fingers. Forks were not in Plymouth until the 18th century. As for the napkin, it was not placed on the lap, it was placed over your left hand shoulder hanging down the front so you could take a piece of meat with your right hand and wipe off your hand on the napkin.
It was not until over 200 years later that Thanksgiving Day was made an official holiday.
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale an American writer, influential editor and author of Mary Had a Little Lamb” spent 40 years campaigning for a national day of giving. She got her wish in 1863 when President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
I know in my house Football is a big part of our Thanksgiving celebration. Since 1934 the Detroit Lions have brought the tradition of a game on Thanksgiving Day. They have played every year with the exception of WWII between 1939 and 1944. The Dallas Cowboys also picked up on this tradition giving us even more enjoyable football since 1966.Bringing on this football tradition also brought on the snacks before the big meal.
An estimated 375 Million pounds of Turkey are eaten every Thanksgiving,
65 million Sweet Potato’s are consumed
80 million pounds of Cranberry’s are eaten
55 million Pumpkin Pies are consumed
In 1955 fully stuffed, frozen and ready to cook Turkeys were introduced to the public.
For 50 years the President of the United States has pardoned a Turkey from Thanksgiving day doom, starting with Harry Truman.
Breaking the wishbone started with the Greek and Roman Empire who brought the tradition to Europe and the English brought it to America.
Stuffing recipes were also brought from Europe. In the first Thanksgiving it was possible that the birds and fish were stuffed with herbs, onions and oats. The most popular stuffing today is breadcrumb, cornbread and oyster.
Corn on the Cob was given to the settlers by the American Indians which was a part of the first feast.
Mashed Potato’s were not likely a part of the celebration as they had not been a part of the settlers diet in 1620.
Sweet Potato’s were a Native American vegetable and were most likely at the first Thanksgiving.
Pumpkin and Apple Pie are the most popular desserts at Thanksgiving. (Also enjoyed is Sweet Potato Pie)
1969 Astronauts enjoyed food packets of roasted Turkey and the trimmings in space.
The popular TV show Friends had a Thanksgiving episode in everyone of the their 10 years on the air.
The 3 most popular way to eat Thanksgiving left overs is sandwiches, soups and casseroles.
Make Turkey Pies! They are so delicious and really help with the left overs.
Get Idea’s and Recipes over at Taste of Home
Photo Courtesy of Becris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net