From food to families, customs change throughout the years


    By Elizabeth Paris

    The first Thanksgiving occurred in December of 1621. Members of a separatist church fled England to escape religious persecution. These pilgrims settled in America, and thus began the American legacy of Thanksgiving.

    Thanksgiving, however, did not become an official holiday until 1863 in a proclamation written by Abraham Lincoln. Thanksgiving continued to change dates until 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt set Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November.

    After their arrival in 1620, the pilgrims had a hard, first winter. Over 50 of the 110 original Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock did not survive the winter.

    Their first harvest the next year was bountiful, and the Pilgrims decided to celebrate the survival of this first year with a feast.

    They also invited the Native Americans to join the feast because they helped them endure the winter. Without the assistance of the Native Americans, the pilgrims might not have survived.

    The pilgrims enjoyed many foods on the days of their celebrations such as fish, grain, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

    The foods that the Pilgrims had available to them for the celebration of the 1621 Thanksgiving were not the traditional foods we think of today.

    They had little if any flour so there were no breads or pastries of any kind, including no crust for pumpkin pie.

    They may, however, have had a pumpkin pudding like the filling of our pumpkin pie today.

    They had no cranberry sauce, although the pilgrims did have cranberries, but they did not have sugar. Indian corn was only good for oatmeal and was not eaten on the cob. Sweet potatoes, potatoes and yams were not yet introduced in New England.

    These foods are different from what people usually think of as the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

    “In 1914 August Jennie Brownscombe created the vision of thanksgiving that we see today: community, religion, racial harmony and tolerance after her notorious painting reached wide circulation in life magazine.” Tristan Ahtone said from the Houston Independent Media Center.

    The traditional ideals of Thanksgiving are of a happy family sharing what they are thankful for and eating turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie.

    Today however, our society is changing and evolving and less emphasis is put on the actual preparation of the meal. Now many people are buying their pies and making their stuffing from a box. But believes that the happiness and togetherness during Thanksgiving has not changed and people still see it as a time for their family and friends to be together.

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