26 November 2003

The History of Thanksgiving

I got this from Care2.com which is a great sight that cares about the world around us:

Don't cry fowl, but the first Thanksgiving was not celebrated by the Pilgrims. In fact, Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated in one way or another throughout history by cultures around the world. Today, Americans of all religions and ethnicities take the fourth Thursday of November to appreciate all that we have to be thankful for. So, let's cut through all the turkey, and tell you the real story:

Animist tribes believed that plants and animals had spirits which were angered by the harvest. To appease these spirits, tribes would make offerings which often included elaborate festivals. These ceremonies provided the foundation for today's Thanksgiving Day holiday.

In addition, the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews all performed their own festivals to celebrate bountiful harvests. The Greeks honored their goddess of grains, Demeter, during the autumn festival of Thesmosphoria. The Romans made annual offerings to Ceres, the goddess of corn. The Jewish people have been celebrating Sukkoth, the harvest festival, for over 2,000 years.

The American tradition began in 1621 when Massachusetts Bay Governor William Bradford proclaimed a feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. The colonists had suffered severe hardships during their first year in the New World, and the successful harvest provided hope that things were improving. According to several documented accounts of this feast, the colonists shared corn, fruits, vegetables and fish with friendly native American tribes who in turn provided fresh venison.

Stop! Hold the cranberry sauce! Although this autumnal feast has served as the foundation for later Thanksgiving Day celebrations, the Pilgrims neither called it "Thanksgiving," nor did they repeat the ceremony in future years. In fact, a day of "thanksgiving" would have been spent fasting and praying by these devoutly religious peoples.

So when did the holiday start? Actually, there were various Thanksgiving Day celebrations throughout the early years of colonial USA and Canada. It was George Washington who first declared that all the members of the new Union should celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day, Thursday, November 26, 1789. But, not surprisingly, it was Abraham Lincoln who first declared Thanksgiving as a US national holiday in 1863. America's neighbors, the Canadians, celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.



While on http://www.theknot.com, my home page pops up that I only have 3 days left until our wedding. So much to do. So little time. I remember when I used to be in school looking at the clock thinking how horribly slow time was. When did it speed up so quickly? And 24 hours in one day is definitely not enough time. There should be at least 36. That way I could get maybe 6 hours of sleep. Last night, I went to bed at 1am after washing the dishes, cleaning the cat litter, taking out the trash. At 3am, my oldest cat woke me up to feed him. So I got up and put down some more of his favorite kibble (he already had some in his bowl, but he wanted fresh out of the container). Then at 7:30am I was up filling the flower vase that the cats like to drink out of, cleaning their water bowl which they never drink out of and filling it up with water, tossing old kibble out of the food bowl and putting fresh kibble down, and opening 3 cans of cat food and 1 pouch of cat food which they just snubbed. But then 2 hours later, the middle cat came over to me "asking" to be fed, like I am suppose to open another can so it is fresh just for her considering they did not touch the other cans. The sad part of it is that I set them up to be that way. It is not uncommon for them to come ask for food and for me to give it to them no matter what the schedule. So I only have myself to blame.

Last week, I was told everything was taken care of for the wedding and not to worry. Now 3 days till the wedding, it seems as though there is a ton of work to do: sizing the dress, getting the food, decorations, reorganizing the wedding party when people are unable to attend, etc. I am completely going nuts. Who was the Sadist who invented weddings?

And to top it all off, we are moving to a new state at the same time. I must be a glutton for punishment.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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