Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Early Thanksgiving Traditions Explained

Sometimes I think that we forget why we celebrate Thanksgiving and the people who started it in the first place. I believe that it is a good reminder to think back and thank those first settlers in the Americas and all that they sacrificed to make America what she is today. So I have done some research and found out why we celebrate some of our most favorite Thanksgiving traditions.


Everyone is aware of the Pilgrims that landed in Plymouth rock and were meet by Indians and the feast that they shared together. However most people think that that feast was similar to the Thanksgiving feasting that we participate in today with turkey, sweet potatoes, and gravy. It however was much different. The Pilgrims most likely had roasted duck and samp which is like a corn based oatmeal. The Indians that were invited brought with them deer venison as a gift to the Pilgrims. Other item on the table that day would have been sea food, cabbage, onions, corn, and squash.


Every year the President pardons a turkey. This tradition first started in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy sent back a turkey mailed by the National Turkey Federation, saying, "We'll just let this one grow." President Richard Nixon sent turkeys to a Washington, D.C., petting farm but didn't officially pardon them, according to the White House Blog. President George H.W. Bush gave the first official pardon to a turkey in 1989. The survivor lived out its days at a Virginia petting zoo called Frying Pan Park. 


After a day of gorging, many Americans sit down to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. This annual tradition didn't get started until 1924, when Macy's employees held a Christmas parade filled with knights, clowns and jugglers. The 6-mile long parade attracted a crowd of 250,000 viewers, and the department store decided to hold it every year. The first balloon, Felix the Cat, floated above the parade in 1927. Mickey Mouse didn't make his appearance until 1934.


The first settlers may have stuffed themselves with a range of meats at the dinner table, but the turducken is a fairly recent invention. A chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. 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. But the tradition of stuffing birds inside of other birds like Russian dolls may have even older roots: French foodie Grimod de la Reynière first described the rôti sans pareil (roast without equal) in L'Almanac des Gourmands between 1803 and 1812. The dish packs 17 birds inside one another, from a tiny warbler all the way up to a giant bird called a bustard.


Another family pastime is Thanksgiving football, which has its roots in the Great Depression. After the Portsmouth Spartans moved to Detroit in 1930, the team's owner knew he had to do something to draw football fans to the new team. In 1934, he arranged a match between the Spartans (renamed the Lions) and the world champions, the Chicago Bears. Though the Spartans lost, a Thanksgiving tradition was born: The game sold out two weeks in advance, and the event became such a hit that it was repeated the year after. This time, the Lions prevailed.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

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