Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Facts To Chew On; Bearing Beer on the Mayflower; Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin Mix It Up Over the Turkey

The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Brownscombe.
This weekend, while visiting our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Dedham, Mass., I proposed a timely visit to Plymouth about a 45 minute drive. The weather was good and the Plymouth website promised a parade with floats, a children's activity tent and a viewing of the famous 'rock' inscribed with the date 1620. After a few delays, the parade started and we had a great viewing spot for our six and four year old grandsons. Bagpipers, fife and drum bands went by and an old green World War 2 bomber flew low over our heads, but just as a float carrying a re-creation of the Mayflower was in sight, a group of marchers fired some rifles repeatedly as part of a demonstration. The boys started screaming and our parade viewing came to a speedy and tearful conclusion.

Guns? I thought pilgrims were a peace-loving people?

While we were there we noticed two different spelling of the word was also spelled Plimoth when referring to the recreated plantation nearby. Plymouth, it seems, is the more modern spelling. Plymouth is a lovely New England village with beautiful homes sitting cliff side overlooking Cape Cod Bay, worth a return visit perhaps in the spring.

We never did get to see the rock!

Dates to Remember
The first American Thanksgiving celebration was in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The pilgrims arrived a year earlier in December 1620.

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.

President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in the year 1789 and again in 1795.

The state of New York officially made Thanksgiving Day an annual custom in 1817.

Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor with a magazine, started a Thanksgiving campaign in 1827 and it was result of her efforts that in 1863 Thanksgiving was observed as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer.

Abraham Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving. Before that,  the presidents used to make an annual proclamation to specify the day when Thanksgiving was to be held.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored Thursday before last of November as Thanksgiving Day in the year 1939. He did so to make the Christmas shopping season longer and thus stimulate the economy of the state.

Let's Talk Turkey
Toms or male turkeys gobble. Hens or female turkeys make a clicking noise.

North Carolina produces the most turkeys annually.

The turkey was originally domesticated in Mexico and Central America.

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. But it was Thomas Jefferson who opposed him. It is believed that Franklin then named the male turkey as 'tom' to spite Jefferson.

June is National Turkey Lovers' Month.

Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.

Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board have given a turkey to the President of the United States at a White House ceremony. Presidents have been more likely to eat the turkey rather than give it a reprieve. In 1963, President Kennedy, referring to the turkey given to him, said, "Let's just keep him." The first Thanksgiving of President George H.W. Bush was the first time a turkey was officially pardoned.

From 1989 through 2004, the turkeys were given to Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia. In 2005 and 2006, the turkeys were flown to Disneyland in California where they served as honorary grand marshals for Disneyland's Thanksgiving Day parade. After that, they spent the rest of their lives at a Disneyland ranch.

On November 24, 2010, President Obama gave two turkeys named Apple and Cider a last-minute reprieve. Obama made light of the event. "Let me say that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November," he said, referring to the drubbing that Democrats took in the midterm elections, which Obama described as a "shellacking."

Israel consumes the most turkey per year per capita.

The best way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator.

Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour.

90 percent of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

50 percent of American homes eat turkey on Christmas.

Turkeys weren't introduced into Europe from the Spanish colonies in South America until 1523. However, by 1524, turkeys, imported from South America, were eaten at the court of King Henry VIII of England.

The skin that hangs from a turkey's neck is called a wattle.

The turkey trot ragtime dance is characterized by a springy walk with the feet well apart and a swinging up-and-down movement of the shoulders.

A mature turkey has about 3,500 feathers.

Minnesota produces the most turkeys annually.

Pilgrims and Indians
The Mayflower left Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 and sighted land off Cape Cod on November 9, 1620 and first landfall was made November 11, 1620

The voyage from Plymouth, England to Plymouth Harbour  across the Atlantic Ocean is about 2,750 miles, and took 66 days.

The pilgrims sailed on the ship called the 'Mayflower'.

By the fall of 1621 only half of the pilgrims, who had sailed on the Mayflower, survived. The survivors, thankful to be alive, decided to give a thanksgiving feast.

The Pilgrim saga began with a group of religious dissidents who believed it was necessary to separate from the Church of England. Persecuted in England, these "Separatists" moved to Holland in 1607/1608.

The group, joined by other colonists recruited by the venture's financial backers, began the move to America in 1620.

The Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
Gov. Bradford

The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford organized the first Thanksgiving feast and invited the Wampanoag Indians to the feast. There were about 90 indians present. The feast lasted three days!

The drink that the Puritans brought with them in the Mayflower was the beer.

102 Pilgrims were on board the Mayflower.

The Wampanoag chief's name was Massasoit.

William Penn, who founded the state of Pennsylvania, was a pilgrim.

First Santa float in the Macy's Parade, 1924.
Other Thanksgiving Facts
The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920's.

The Jewish holiday of Shabuoth or Shavuoth is similar to Thanksgiving. In biblical times the festival was a thanksgiving for the grain harvest. Later tradition associates the holiday with the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.

Kwanzaa, also similar to Thanksgiving, has its roots in the ancient African first-fruit harvest celebrations from which it takes its name. However, its modern history begins in 1966 when it was developed by African American scholar and activist Maulana Karenga.

The Virgin Islands rejoice in the end of the hurricane season on Oct. 25

At the First Thanksgiving, it was acceptable to spit on the ground, throw bones into the hearth and eat with your hands.

Pumpkin pie was not served at the First Thanksgiving.

The cornucopia (a horn-shaped basket overflowing with fruits and vegetables) is a typical emblem of Thanksgiving abundance that dates to ancient harvest festivals. Many of the images commonly associated with Thanksgiving are derived from much older traditions of celebrating the autumn harvest.

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