Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving And Cook Specific Items
Social Scientist asserts that festive celebrations bring people closer. A case in point is the Thanksgiving festival. But how and when Thanksgiving was invented is the real question. The first time Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by more than a hundred people, including pilgrims and Native Americans.
The Pilgrims who traveled from England intending to establish a new colony reached the New World ( North America) in 1620. The future of the pilgrims was in jeopardy had they not been saved by the Native Americans. To date, Thanksgiving is celebrated with much zeal and zest in North America to memorialize the first ample harvest of 1621.
The Making of Holidays in North America
In 1620, more than a hundred people from England sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and set foot on the land of the New World. The first year of settlement for the pilgrims in the colony was difficult. They lived in the wilderness. Neither did they know how to hunt nor do they know how to sow.
The seeds they brought along did not germinate in the new climate. Half of the colonists died of disease and malnourishment in the first year. In their woeful days, pilgrims were rescued by the Native Americans. Native Americans, at that time, America, were divided into different sections.
Each section was dagger drawn at each other. The rivalry amongst these sections prompted the Wampanoag tribe to approach pilgrims with a compromise. It was decided that inhabitants would teach pilgrims how to survive in the new world, and in return, pilgrims would protect Indians against their rival groups.
Pilgrims were taught to fish and dig for clams, tiptoe through the forest, grow corn and other crops, and hunt. By the fall of 1621, pilgrims harvested bountiful crops of barley, beans, corn, and pumpkin for the first time and had a sufficient amount of food in reserve. Thus, they had enough reason to be thankful.
To celebrate this occasion, a feast was planned. This led to the celebration of Thanksgiving every year, but there was a glitch. At first, colonies celebrated Thanksgiving as per their wish. Later, when the United States declared independence, a debate ensued in Congress to specify a day for Thanksgiving to unite colonies into a single state via a festive celebration.
Yet, all efforts were futile until a century passed and the Godmother of Thanksgiving, Sarah Josepha, emerged on the scene. Sarah, a renowned editor of 1900, convinced the power holders to declare the last Thursday of November a Thanksgiving day.
She wrote several letters to governors, ministers, newspaper editors, and every US president with one request to announce the last Thursday of November as thanksgiving day. Abraham Lincoln, US president at that time, got carried away with Sarah’s idea and issued a proclamation in 1863 wherein the last Thursday of November was declared national Thanksgiving Day in America.
Hitherto, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. While in Canada, Thanksgiving has been observed since 1879; in 1957, the Canadian Parliament set the second week of October as the general date for observing Thanksgiving.
Symbols of Thanksgiving
Ever wonder why more or less all tables on Thanksgiving resemble each other? It is because Thanksgiving revolves around symbols. It is easy to guess turkey is a symbol of Thanksgiving. Thanks to our consumption of American movies and seasons. True, turkey is the most significant symbol of Thanksgiving, but it is not the only one. The six main symbols of Thanksgiving are turkey, corn, pumpkin, cranberries, cornucopias, and beans. Each symbol is not only limited to food but with itself attaches a historical representation.
1) Why do we eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?
Pilgrims invited native Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving with them; the native Americans brought turkey as a token of a gift for pilgrims. Turkey is native to North America and is abundant in America, and it can be found on every table on the eve of Thanksgiving. The table of Thanksgiving is decorated with a turkey in the center of the table. Americans commemorate the friendship between Inhabitants and pilgrims by eating turkey and singing turkey hymns on Thanksgiving.
2) Is Corn a traditional food on Thanksgiving?
When pilgrims failed to sow their crops in the climate of America, the first seed planted with the help of Inhabitants was corn. Edward Winslow, former governor of Plymouth colony, wrote in his letters that they produced 20 acres of Indian corn during the summer and some of their other crops weren’t plentiful, but the corn did well. Today corn reminds us of the importance of agriculture in America’s economy. There is always some form of corn on Thanksgiving eve. Americans attach different meanings to different corns.
3) How Cornucopia symbolizes Prosperity?
From Greek mythology, the cornucopia represents abundance, prosperity, and bounty. A Cornucopia, known as a ‘horn of plenty, is a horn-shaped container filled with an abundance of food. On the eve of Thanksgiving, a cornucopia symbolizes a lot of food, sharing of prosperity, and blessings. It is a way to share gratitude, blessing, love, and peace with one’s family and friends.
4) Are Pumpkins for Thanksgiving?
It is not exactly known how pumpkins find their way on Thanksgiving eve, yet Americans revere it like all other significant symbols. To them, pumpkin is an important harvesting vegetable. Not only pumpkin pie which is a customary item for Thanksgiving, but also its leaves are used in salads.
5) What is about beans?
Along with corn, native Americans taught pilgrims how to grow beans. The beans form a group with corn and squash. Thus these three crops came to be known as ‘three sisters crops.’ These three crops work in harmony to benefit each other. This historical significance made beans a symbol of Thanksgiving.
6) Why do we eat Cranberry?
One of the few fruits native to American soil, cranberries were present on the first eve of Thanksgiving. Since then, Americans have eaten cranberry to celebrate the discovery of pilgrims. Pilgrims discovered how to make their energy bar (a mixture of cranberry, dried meat, and fat); they also discovered how to dye clothes and, in poultice, how to remove the poisonous weed. Pilgrims also found a way to sweeten bitter cranberries by mixing them with maple sugar.
To sum it up, it can be said that the confusion you had earlier is now resting in peace. Truly, turkey is the important symbol of Thanksgiving, but it is not the only one. Others include corn, beans, cornucopias, and pumpkin. The invention of Thanksgiving as a holiday in North America is another interesting fact you must be aware of. I have done my duty by stating facts; you do yours by reading.