Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Reason for the Turkey - Thanksgiving Week #2


While several early settlements within the USA celebrated "Thanksgiving" prior to 1621, the most memorable one is the thanksgiving feast shared between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621.

The Pilgrims arrived in New England off the coast of Massachusetts in 1620. Despite their best efforts, the first year was tough. Many of their seeds didn't product viable crops except for the barley.

The Indians took the Pilgrims under their wing and offered them fellowship. They introduced them to native foods.

For the Pilgrims, all the wild fowl was "turkey." Chickens were "turkey." Duck was "turkey." Goose was "turkey." You get the idea. Did the Indians and Pilgrims eat "turkey" on this feast? No one really knows. Governor William Bradford, who organized the event sent the Pilgrims men out to hunt fowl. They bought fowl back. Whether it was a chicken, duck, geese, or turkey, we don't know.

The Indians brought venison (deer) to the feast. Since the Pilgrims and Indians lived close to the Atlantic Ocean, seafood was big on the menu – clams, lobster, and fish were offered. Side dishes included corn, carrots, onions, nuts and boiled pumpkin.

What about pie? Well, the Pilgrims ran out of flour and sugar. In fact, they ate with spoons, knives, and their hands. (They didn't have forks) Plums, grapes, and apples probably served for dessert.

After 1621, this thanksgiving feast was celebrated sporadically. 50 years later a proclamation was issued in 1676 to celebrate on 29 June. Seems the Indians weren't invited to the feast anymore.

In 1777, all 13 American Colonies celebrated thanksgiving, giving thanks for a victory against the British.

George Washington proclaimed 26 NOV 1789 to be a national day of thanksgiving. Thomas Jefferson thought his fellow founding father was silly. In fact, many Americans poo-poo'd the idea of a national holiday based on a bad harvest a couple of Pilgrims had.

Sarah Hale – you know her – she wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb" – she nagged president after president for 40 years before Abraham Lincoln finally broke down and proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of thanksgiving.

Franklin Roosevelt tried to make it the 3rd Thursday of November to extend the holiday Christmas shopping season and stimulate the economy, but so many Americans fussed, he kept it the 4th Thursday starting in 1942.


Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving. Their reasons for celebrating vary just a little, and in fact when Americans celebrate Columbus Day in October, Canadians are known to celebrate their Thanksgiving.

The 1st Canadian thanksgiving was 40 years before the American one. Explorer Martin Frobisher was looking for that elusive northern route to the orient, or at a minimum, the Pacific Ocean. He offered thanks not for a harvest, but for surviving the long journey from England through storms and ice.

Samuel de Champlain offered thanksgiving for successful harvests. Americans journeyed to Canada and resettled there during the American Revolution, incorporating their traditions into the Canadian celebration.

By the end of the 19th Century, Thanksgiving was celebrated on 6 NOV. However, after World War I, the observance of Armistice Day conflicted with Thanksgiving. The Canadian Parliament moved their observation of Thanksgiving to the 2nd Monday of October in 1957 to avoid the conflict.

I think the spirit of Thanksgiving is embodied in the fellowship and giving between the Pilgrims and Indians. Sometimes though, it may be a challenge in our modern lives to cut through the madness and get the message, especially in today's economic climate. I think it's important to share the message of the holidays. Many organizations organize food drives. My sons' elementary school and our church did, so I got my sons together, bought a few items off the requested list, and we donated them in the spirit of giving.

What do you do to show your thanks and help others?

My Christmas story, "Feast of Candles" is now available in the 2011 Christmas Collection form Victory Tales Press.

BLURB: Drake de Brettville is going to take the biggest risk of his life – all because of a bottle of wine. Can he convince the lonely Lily Marquand of Marquand Wineries that Christmas wishes do come true?

TITLE: Feast of Candles
GENRE: Contemporary Christmas


The smile in his eyes contained a sensuous flame which made her cheeks warm. "What scents make you believe it's Christmas?" he asked.

"Mistletoe. Nutmeg. Vanilla. Peppermint. Pine. Apples."

He quirked an eyebrow. "Apples? Really?"

"Growing up, we always had apple pie on Christmas Eve."

Drake walked forward, stopping before her. White string lights sparkled on the tree, sending soft shadows over his cheeks. The room was empty. The doormen were escorting guests to their cars.

"What makes me believe it's Christmas is light." His voice was low and purposefully seductive. His nearness made her senses spin.

"Light? I don't understand."

"In Denmark, the sun rises after eight in the morning and sets before four in the afternoon, so light is important in our Christmas traditions. Candlelight drives away the gloom and creates a warmth and coziness for many families during this cold and dark time of year. This last weekend my family gathered to light our first candle on the Advent wreath."

"Family is important to you?" She had to know.

"Very. And you?"

"My mother passed away when I was a little girl, and my father threw his heart and soul into the winery. I have an uncle, but he lives in New York. I grew up not knowing what a close family was like."

His compelling eyes riveted her to the spot as they hinted of sadness. He reached out and cupped her cheek, gently stroking her jaw with his thumb. "I'm sorry. You shouldn't be alone at Christmas."

"I'm used to the loneliness." She closed her eyes briefly, enjoying his touch far too much.

He drew close, pressing the length of his body against hers. Her pulse quickened even as a sense of caution flooded through her. She opened her eyes and placed her hand over his, while placing her other hand over his chest to stop him from drawing closer. Despite her attraction, she wasn't quite ready to allow a kiss.

He stared into her eyes, keeping his hand on her waist. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She hesitated. "Everything. You…" her voice trailed off. Silence grew between them. God, what had she been thinking? Was it possible to have a future with him?


AMAZON EBOOK: http://www.amazon.com/2011-Christmas-Collection-Sensual-ebook/dp/B005Z8VOVG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1321936454&sr=1-1

BARNES & NOBLE NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/2011-christmas-collection-vtp-anthologies/1107079792?ean=2940032828143&itm=1&usri=2011+christmas+collection

SMASHWORDS: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/99059






GIVEAWAY: Post a review on Amazon between now and 1 DEC for the Anthology and you'll be entered to win a decorative stuffed cloth Christmas tree created by my friend, Lori Powell. Winners will be announced on my website on the blog post.


  1. Thanks for sharing our Canadian Thanksgiving with the US Thanksgiving. I think many are not aware that we too have this celebration.

    I give of my time to others and an thankful when others can do the same for me.

    Your story sounds delightful...

    Happy Thanksgiving to all my US Friends as you celebrate this holiday may your table be plentiful and your blessings many.

  2. What an interesting post. I never knew the exact origins of Thanksgiving. I used to always spent Colombus Day in Montreal with Candadian relatives and share their Thanksgiving in addition to ours.

  3. As a Scot I didn't know some of that info, so thank you for sharing. I do think the idea of having family around you for a celebration these days is so important. If you don't have a particular ingredient, or have some traditionally expected part of the meal it's no disaster-so long as you can share that's what's important.

  4. Oh, guess what? Texas claims the first Thanksgiving. Can't remember the details right now, but it was the Spanich Conquistadors and some Indians in the 1500's. I'm just saying.
    Have a great week, Steph.

  5. Hahaha...that looked like "Spinich." The "Spanish," if you will.

  6. I agree but I prefer my husband's family over mine. I'm one of the strange people that enjoys her in-laws. I love the hugeness of the family. Jim is the oldest of nine kids. Starting with his mom who was one of nine or 11 he doesn't remember which. Then she had 9 there are 13 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. I have to stop and list everyone by the number of children they have and how many children the children have. But needless to say it is a housefull of fun. When we married in 1971 his youngest brother was 2 years old. Now there are still 2 year olds in the family 40 almost 41 years later. We also have several single people with no kids yet lol.

  7. Thanks for sharing that, Steph. Interesting info to this Scot. We know about the US thanksgiving but not much about the Canadian one. Here, we don't celebrate with turkey until Christmas.

  8. It was interesting to learn about Canadian Thanksgiving and I was honored to share.

    Nancy, I agree - while some have fashioned an item they make well for the holidays, it's about the fellowship and sharing.

    Celia, you'll have to share with us sometime. I'd love to hear about it. hehe

    Kathy, a housefull of fun is always the best at Thanksgiving. I just love watching the kids play.

    Rosemary, is there a special way you prepare your Christmas turkey? We used to fry it until we discovered my son, who is 5 now, has a peanut allergy and we couldn't fry it in peanut oil anymore.