How Thanksgiving Became Thanksgiving

How Thanksgiving Became Thanksgiving

Like Christmas, the origins of Thanksgiving are hotly debated. Like Christmas, we can thank stories of Thanksgiving passed down through generations by word of mouth, in letters and documents, period media reports, and great literary works for the making of all that we celebrate of the holiday today. Historians these days love to deconstruct “the facts” surrounding Thanksgiving. They tell us we are wrong to think of it as we do. They say the “first Thanksgiving” celebrated in grade school plays likely never happened. But facts are stubborn things, noted President John Adams. Here are some stubborn facts about ThanksgivingRead more

Finding Christmas in Thanksgiving

Finding Christmas in Thanksgiving

A recent survey revealed sharp divisions in when the celebration of Christmas begins. Nearly a third said Christmas begins right after Halloween, a third said Christmas begins right after Thanksgiving and for another third the celebration of Christmas is something done every day. In recent years many have insisted that Christmas so overpowers the calendar that holidays such as Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day are entirely forgotten. Those making the argument are also those who claim Christmas celebration comes in the form of broadcast music, seasonal Starbucks cups and decorations sold in stores. There are even those who blanch and takeRead more

Over the River and Through the Wood

Over the River and Through the Wood

“Over the River and through the wood” is a phrase endeared to many that evokes the memory of Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. Many know it as a poem first, many more know it as a Christmas song. Christmas was never it’s original intention. It was always, from its title forward, meant to be a tribute to Thanksgiving. It was written by an extraordinary woman named Lydia Maria Child in 1844 – decades before Christmas and Thanksgiving became federal holidays. Despite that fact, the poem was based on a nostalgic longing for the Thanksgiving holiday celebrations of her New England youth.Read more

Pumpkin Pie Poetry

Pumpkin Pie Poetry

The Thanksgiving of old America included a serious reverence the people of the 18th and 19th centuries had for pumpkin pie. Said the editor of the Philadelphia Ledger in 1837 “that he should like to be thrown into a pumpkin pie as large as Lake Superior, only deeper, and obliged it eat his way out.” Some historians and foodies would have you to believe that pumpkin was a staple of the early American diet. But don’t you believe it. There was nothing normal or routine or regular about it. It has been, from the very beginning, a harvest food foreverRead more

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing has become for many an anthem of Thanksgiving — as close to a Thanksgiving carol as there can be. The song was written in the mid-18th century by a 22-year old theology student. His name was Robert Robinson. As a youth, Robinson was a bit of a wild child, having lost his father when he was just 5 years old. As he entered his teen years he became too much for his mother to handle so she shipped him off to London to apprentice for a barber. At 17, Robinson set out on aRead more

The Thanksgiving History You Never Hear

The Thanksgiving History You Never Hear

Modern media is flooded each Thanksgiving with tales of the myths and distortions of America’s most widely celebrated holiday. That is the most amazing thing about Thanksgiving. It is full of ironies and falsehoods and ignored facts. On one extreme you have those who cling to the Charlie Brown version of Thanksgiving. This is what most of us were taught in grade school – that the pilgrims walked off the Mayflower, made nice with the Indians and enjoyed a festive meal. On the other extreme you have those who say the Thanksgiving at Plymouth of 1621 never happened at allRead more

Josiah, His Turkeys and His Sweetheart

Josiah, His Turkeys and His Sweetheart

(Editor’s Note: This Thanksgiving story was published sometime in the early 19th century. Like A Visit from St. Nicholas it was published as a tradition year after year in many newspapers. We found it in the Boston Traveler from 1836, though we noted it dating back as far as 1824 in another newspaper. This is a delightful look an old American Thanksgiving traditions – as well as a great story of love.) Have you ever been in Windsor, Vermont? If so, you have heard of Josiah Baker. Indeed, you have heard of him even tho you have not been inRead more

Five Must See Movies Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Five Must See Movies Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving represents a lot of traditions in American culture. Some enjoy the parade, others get into the football and some are all about the food. For many, it is a simple day of being together and playing games. Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, really is a true holiday. Everything stops for something different. Thanksgiving is also traditionally a time set aside to kick off the Christmas season. Many put up or cut down their Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. Most have their Christmas lights hung and many use Thanksgiving night as their time for turning them all on. ByRead more

Ancient Connections of Thanksgiving and Christmas

Ancient Connections of Thanksgiving and Christmas

Here is some fodder for your Thanksgiving day discussions around the turkey — which is the more sacred holiday in America, Thanksgiving or Christmas? Check your learning of history at the door. This history of both holidays goes back further than you know — and both are related to each other in significant ways. Watch this video: Christmas, while constantly under a cloud in regular debates of what is politically correct or not, was NEVER a religious holiday in America. It may have been a religious holiday once-upon-a-time in Rome. The mashed-up words “Christ” and “mass”, which many historians sayRead more