The beauty of Thanksgiving is that it’s a holiday about family and friends coming together to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Is there a better reason to celebrate a holiday? When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of fun, family time but I also think of the food, football, and the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The parade, which is held in New York City, started in 1924 and has been televised on NBC since 1952. In the early years, the parade participants were actual Macy’s employees, and live animals were borrowed from the Central Park Zoo to be in the parade. In 1927, the live animals were replaced by a large, Felix the Cat balloon. Today, the parade is known for its giant balloons which are carried by hundreds of volunteers. At the end of the parade, we get our first glimpse of Santa Claus.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9:00 a.m. EST Thanksgiving morning and lasts for three hours. Watching the parade is an annual tradition at our house, even though we’re usually in the kitchen cooking while it’s on. By the time the parade’s over, it’s time to switch the TV to football. This year, there are three NFL games and two college football games scheduled on Thanksgiving Day.
Every family has their Thanksgiving food favorites and traditions. I did an informal phone text poll with my family to see what everyone would say are their favorite Thanksgiving dishes.
Only one of my family members said “turkey” but there were lots of “mashed potatoes and gravy” answers, one person said “bean salad, someone else said “cornbread stuffing” was his favorite, another said “pumpkin pie hands down”, my mom’s banana pudding was a favorite of two, and our vegetarian family member said her favorites are “Tofurky and stuffing, and sweet potatoes”. Oh and there was also the family member who said “deep dish pizza”.
One of my new daughters-in-law said, “egg noodles”. In her family, they have a long-time tradition of homemade egg noodles which are cooked in chicken broth. I asked for the recipe so I can add it to our Thanksgiving menu in the future. At our house, we will be having everyone’s favorites this year. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
When I was making our Thanksgiving menu, I was curious about the meal the Pilgrims and the Native Americans had that first Thanksgiving. You will recall that the folks on the Mayflower sailed from England in 1620. There were 102 passengers and it took them 66 days over rough seas to get to the New World.
They landed near Cape Cod Massachusetts in early November and settled in an abandoned Native American village which they called “Plymouth”. It was too late to plant crops and they were not prepared for the cold winter ahead. Most of the settlers didn’t know how to hunt game or how to fish and half of them died that first winter from malnutrition and scurvy.
In the summer of 1621, the Pilgrims signed a treaty with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag Tribe which lived nearby. In exchange for help with their food supply, the Pilgrims agreed to help protect the Wampanoag Tribe from rival tribes. The Wampanoags taught the Pilgrims how to hunt and fish and how to grow crops (such as corn) on their new land.
In the fall of 1621, the 52 remaining Pilgrims came together with 90 Native Americans for a day of prayer and a three-day feast to celebrate their first harvest. Harvest festivals were common in Europe at the time and the Pilgrims brought this tradition to the New World.
While turkey was not the centerpiece of the meal like it is today, wild turkeys were certainly on the menu. There are only two accounts that exist which mention the food served at the feast. It sounds a bit like a modern day low carbohydrate diet, but the rest of the menu consisted of venison (five deer brought by the Native Americans), goose, duck, fish, mussels and other seafood, and a thick corn mush or porridge made from the corn harvest.
Historians also speculate that fruits and vegetables available in the area at the time might have been a part of the feast. These include blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, squash, and possibly peas.
While this celebration is commonly thought of as the first Thanksgiving in America, it was really the first harvest celebration. Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday in this country until President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation in 1863. Lincoln’s proclamation made the last Thursday in November our Thanksgiving Day Holiday.
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up by a week to extend the Christmas shopping season to help shop owners and to give people more time to do their Christmas shopping. This caused a great deal of controversy and finally, in 1941 Congress passed a law saying the fourth Thursday in November would be our national Thanksgiving Day.
Wishing you all a fun, relaxing, and happy Thanksgiving holiday!
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:2