We’re just a few days from Thanksgiving. This means a lot of travel followed by a lot of food and then a lot of shopping. We are truly thankful to take part in any one of the three and, if we can be part of the travel for you, all the better. Celebrating Thanksgiving is a tradition as old as America – for the most part.
Among most religions and cultures, there is some observation of thanks for health, a bountiful harvest or any of a number of things for which one might be thankful. In America, Thanksgiving’s roots lie in religion. Today, however, it has come to be celebrated as a secular holiday.
During the reign of King Henry VIII, “Days of Thanksgiving” and special religious ceremonies became important – as part of the English Reformation (which was part of the Protestant Reformation). The observation began, partially, as a reaction to the number of Catholic holidays that had been observed. Until 1536 the Church mandated observation of 95 religious holidays in addition to the 52 Sundays in the year. All dates required the people to attend church and forego work, thus also foregoing any opportunity of making money for food. In the reformation of 1536 these requisite holidays were reduced to 27, plus Sundays.
Here, in the United States, the tradition of Thanksgivingcan be loosely traced back to the celebration of what is considered the “First Thanksgiving” at Plymouth in 1621. This day of thanks was in response to a good harvest, though some attribute it to being thankful for making a safe voyageacross the Atlantic. By the 1660s, the practice of having an annual day of thanksgiving had caught on in New England. Later, in 1789, President George Washington proclaimed November 26thas “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.
From 1789 until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving was observed on different days in different states. By the beginning of the 19th Century, most areas had settled on the last Thursday in November to celebrate. But it was Lincoln in 1863 who, in an attempt to bring unity to America, proclaimed the last Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. This was a valiant effort; however, the Confederate States of America were unwilling to recognize Lincoln as their president, nor his rules as their own. Finally, in the 1870s, after the Reconstruction of America, a nationwide Thanksgiving was observed.
It wasn’t until 1941, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thanksgiving was officially made a national holiday and moved to the fourth Thursday in November, not the last.
So, there you have a little something to chew on with your turkey and cranberry sauce.
We are thankful for you. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter or visit our website.
Until next time…