Time to be thankful

A look at how Thanksgiving became a tradition


2 - CopySeptember 1620 – The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers with an assortment of religious backgrounds, seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith, and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. (1)


3 - CopyNovember 1620 – The Pilgrims dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, they crossed Massachusetts Bay and began establishing Plymouth. (2)


GR547 SQUANTO TEACHING PILGRIMS.  Squanto teaching the principles of corn culture to the pilgrims. Drawing by Charles W. Jefferys.

(spring) 1621 – Another Native American, Squanto, taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish, and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and remains one of the only examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans. (4)


5November 1621 – After the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. (5)


6 - CopyNovember 1621 – “America’s First Thanksgiving” consisted of three days of eating, hunting, and other activities celebrating the successful harvest. The Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. The meals probably included: a cornucopia from the sea, (including lobsters, clams, mussels and even eels) venison, Indian corn, fowl, barley, and cranberries (plain). Despite modern traditions, the first feast did NOT include turkey, pumpkin, or potatoes as they had not yet arrived in New England. (6)


7 - Copy1789 – The feast didn’t repeat until Thursday, November 26, 1789 when Washington announced the First National Thanksgiving, however, it didn’t become an annual tradition until the 19th century. (7)


8 alt1827 – Sarah Josepha Hale (author of Mary…Lamb…) was inspired by a “Pilgrim Life” book to recreate the first Thanksgiving feast. Starting in 1827, she campaigned for 30 years to make it a National Holiday. She published recipes for pumpkin pie, turkey, and stuffing — which didn’t appear on the Pilgrims’ plates — setting the scene for modern Thanksgiving. (8)


91863 – President Abraham Lincoln announced that Thanksgiving would be celebrated as a national holiday the final Thursday of every November. (9)


101924 – The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was originally held on Christmas and was meant to draw attention to the Macy’s store. The 6-mile long parade attracted a crowd of more than 250,000 viewers, and it was decided that the event would become an annual Thanksgiving tradition. Today, it attracts more than 3.5 million people to the streets of NY, as well as 50 million TV viewers nationally. The parade is known for its extravagant floats, wacky performances, and giant balloons. (10)


111939 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week so depression-era retailers could make more money during the holiday shopping season. The decision was highly criticized, so in 1941, FDR moved it back to the original fourth Thursday (as it still is today). (11)


121989 – The first official parson of a turkey was made by George H.W. Bush in November of 1989. Since then, every president pardons one or two turkeys, sending them to a “turkey retirement home” instead of the dinner table. (12)


131934 – In order to attract attention to his new team, the owner of the Portsmouth Spartans (Lions) arranged a game between the Spartans, and the world champs, the Chicago Bears. Though the Spartans lost, a tradition was born. The Lions have hosted the Thanksgiving game every year since. (13)
141970-1980 – A chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, the Turducken is a fairly recent invention. The dish first appeared in central Louisiana meat shops sometime between the late 1970s and early 1980s and was popularized by Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. (14)