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Thanksgiving Traditions and Trivia

November 16, 2013

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Thinking about a Thanksgiving getaway in Lake Geneva?  We had our first snowflakes of the season yesterday and though it seems like the gardens were just in bloom and couples were eating breakfast out on the patio when they stayed with us at Lazy Cloud, I guess it is time to admit that the holidays are right around the corner.   Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is typically celebrated at home with family and friends.  Even though food seems to be the main focus of the day, in reality it is all about the relationships we have with those seated around our table.

For some of us, that means following tried and true traditions passed down through the years, for others, it may mean starting new traditions.  Here’s a thought for a new tradition…why not book a romantic getaway weekend starting the day after Thanksgiving.  I know it will mean missing fighting the crowds at malls, circling hours for a parking spot to rush in to buy the one item that was specially priced for Black Friday, only to find out that by the time you actually got a parking space and fought your way through the crowd that the last one was just sold seconds before.   Really???  This is fun??? Just saying…. a new tradition of getting away with your special person might just be a bit more fun.

But barring that new tradition of scheduling a romantic Thanksgiving getaway, here are a few more traditions, along with some Thanksgiving trivia to enhance your enjoyment of this upcoming holiday.

Thanksgiving Day

In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. But did you know that seven other nations also celebrate an official Thanksgiving Day? Those nations are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Korea, Liberia, and Switzerland.

History of Thanksgiving in America

According to most historians, the pilgrims never observed an annual Thanksgiving feast in autumn. In the year 1621, they did celebrate a feast near Plymouth, Massachusetts, following their first harvest. But this feast most people refer to as the first Thanksgiving was never repeated.

Oddly enough, most devoutly religious pilgrims observed a day of thanksgiving with prayer and fasting, not feasting. Yet even though this harvest feast was never called Thanksgiving by the pilgrims of 1621, it has become the model for the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Firsthand accounts of this feast, by Edward Winslow and William Bradford, can be found on Pilgrim Hall Museum.

Timeline of Thanksgiving in America

• 1541 – Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, led a thanksgiving Communion celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon, West Texas.
• 1565 – Pedro Menendez de Aviles and 800 settlers gathered for a meal with the Timucuan Indians in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida.
• 1621 – Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated a harvest feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
• 1630 – Settlers observed the first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England on July 8, 1630.
• 1777 – George Washington and his army on the way to Valley Forge, stopped in blistering weather in open fields to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America.
• 1789 – President Washington declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of “thanksgiving and prayer.”
• 1800s – The annual presidential thanksgiving proclamations ceased for 45 years in the early 1800s.
• 1863 – President Abraham Lincoln resumed the tradition of Thanksgiving proclamations in 1863. Since this date, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.
• 1941 – President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Parades

In Midtown Manhattan, New York City, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is held annually every Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving parades are also held in cities like Houston, Philadelphia and Detroit and Chicago.

Thanksgiving Football

Football is an important part of many Thanksgiving Day celebrations in the United States.
• The Detroit Lions of the American National Football League have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1934 (except 1939-1944, during World War II).
• The Dallas Cowboys have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1966 (except 1975 and 1977).
• Many regional and rival college and high school football games are played on Thanksgiving weekend.

Turkey DayThe centerpiece of most Thanksgiving feasts in the United States is a large roasted turkey, appropriately giving the holiday the nickname “Turkey Day.” Another tradition associated with the Thanksgiving turkey, is “making a wish” with the wishbone. The person who happens to get the wishbone in their slice of turkey, chooses another family member to join them in making a wish as they each hold one piece of the breastbone. They make a wish and then break the bone. The tradition says, whoever ends up holding the larger piece of bone, will have their wish come true.

Presidential Turkey

Each Thanksgiving Day since 1947, the President of the United States has been presented with three turkeys by the National Turkey Federation. One live turkey is pardoned and gets to live the rest of its life on a quiet farm; the other two are dressed for the Thanksgiving meal.

Family Traditions

When it comes to family traditions, there are many, from watching the same favorite movie every year on Thanksgiving to passing around a Thanksgiving Journal and letting guests journal (if they choose) what they are thankful for during this past year, to having everyone sign the tablecloth in permanent ink.

What about you? What are some of your favorite family Thanksgiving Traditions?

Though I definitely think a Romantic Thanksgiving Getaway should be on your list……just sayin’.

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