Monday, November 19, 2012
Complete & Concise History of Thanksgiving
December 4, 1619-- 38 English settlers arrived at Berkely Hundred which comprised about 8,000 acres on the north bank of the James River, about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, Virginia where the first permanent settlement had been established in 1607. The group's charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a "day of thanksgiving" to God.
During the Indian Massacre of 1622, nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundreds were killed, as well as about a third of the entire population of the Virginia Colony. The remaining colonists withdrew to Jamestown and other more secure points.
The Pilgrims were taught by the Indians how to catch eel and grow corn. Additionally the Wampanoag Indian leader Massasoithad caused food stores to be donated to the fledgling colony during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient. The Pilgrims set apart a day to celebrate at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest.
November, 1863-- In the middle of the Civil War, Lincoln prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863 and since then, has been observed annually in the United States.
During the second half of the 19th century, Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from region to region. A traditional New England Thanksgiving, for example, consisted of a raffle held on Thanksgiving eve (in which the prizes were mainly geese or turkeys), a shooting match on Thanksgiving morning (in which turkeys and chickens were used as targets), church services, and then the traditional feast which consisted of some familiar Thanksgiving staples such as turkey and pumpkin pie, and some not-so-familiar dishes such as pigeon pie.
In New York City, people would dress up in fanciful masks and costumes and roam the streets in merry-making mobs. By the end of the century these mobs had morphed into "ragamuffin parades" comprised mostly of costumed children, and by the 20th century the tradition had mostly vanished.
Many localities had made a tradition of celebrating on the last Thursday, and many football teams had a tradition of playing their final games of the season on Thanksgiving; with their schedules set well in advance, they could not change.
Since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, Roosevelt's change was widely disregarded. Twenty-three states went along with Roosevelt's recommendation, 22 did not, and some, like Texas could not decide and took both days as government holidays.