Thursday, November 27, 2008

How Much Do You Really Know About Thanksgiving?

Just some interesting facts I learned about Thanksgiving this year during "school" with Summer. Some of them I already knew....some I didn't.

Has the celebration of Thanksgiving always been on the fourth Thursdayin November? The answer is No. The date was changed to make a longer shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 1863 PresidentLincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. In 1939 it wasmoved to the second-to-last Thursday. Then in 1941 it was moved to thefourth Thursday.

There are many myths and historical oddities connected with Thanksgiving.Did you know the Mayflower was headed for Virginia but, oops, it ended up in Massachusetts? And Indians were not invited to the celebration. A large group of menjust showed up--the 17th-century version of party crashers. There were probably twice as many Indians as Pilgrims, so it seems unlikely the Pilgrims would have asked them to leave.

Unfortunately, no one is sure why they came. Perhaps they heard the musket shots and were curious. But they did bring deer to eat. No popcorn, though. It wasn't even grown in New England then. But Indian corn was, and it was probably dried, pounded and cooked into a porridge. They probably ate waterfowland turkeys, too, all living in the wild. Also available were fish,squash, cabbage, carrots, turnips, spinach and onions. No potatoes--theywere still grown only in South America. Although cranberries were growingnearby, no records show they were cooked and eaten until the 1670s.

Forget the black clothes, too. Pilgrim women wore green, blue and purple.Men liked red linings in their cloaks. And they didn't have buckles ontheir shoes and hats. Buckles were not in style till years later. Next time you see a painting of the first Thanksgiving, look carefully. An iron cooking pot was really used; it may even be the one that survivesin a museum. But there were no log cabins. They were built by Swedes who came 18 years later.

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