… from the Perspectives’ Kitchen
It’s that thankful time of year again… time to eat, drink and be merry! Starting with this blog, you will find some of the best holiday recipes that have been standards for Joan and me and many of the Perspectives’ team members. Once you've got the turkey a cookin' and the pies a bakin', be sure to take some time to think about all we’re being thankful for and how the tradition got started.
Before we get into the history of this wonderful holiday—Americans’ favorite, by the way—here are some thoughts for a successful celebration. First, draft a menu for this special day, covering all the Thanksgiving necessities: turkey, side dishes and pies and other desserts, plus don't forget the wine (sip happens!) and seconds, too.
Second, keep Thanksgiving Day on a high note… Celebrate the holiday but skip the politics this year and guide your family dinner conversation to light and fun places, along with talk of what you are each thankful for, perhaps with Thanksgiving songs playing in the background too. You can add in some Thanksgiving jokes and even some mom and dad reminisces (that’s always good for a chuckle or two) while you are at it. Read through them all to find just the right Thanksgiving Instagram caption for your photo images from this year's around the table celebration too, and if you want to take one to next level, put them on matching T-shirts for Christmas gifts to be given to participating family members next month.
Now get ready, it's time to gobble 'til you wobble—and hopefully not squabble—until it's time for a round of tree hilarious Christmas puns.
As the saga goes, the English sailed from England on the Mayflower, landed at Plymouth Rock and had a good harvest in 1621. So, the governor (William Bradford) held a feast to celebrate and invited a group of friendly Native Americans, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit and they feasted on fowl, deer and pie.
Setting aside time to give thanks for one's blessings, along with holding feasts to celebrate a harvest, are both practices that long predate the European settlement(s) of North America. The Puritans observed days of fasting to pray for God's favor, as well as days of celebration to thank God for a bountiful harvest, victory and other joyous occasions. Documented thanksgiving services in the territory (now the United States) were conducted in the 16th century by English, Spaniards and the French. These days of thanksgiving were celebrated through church services and feasting. Historian Michael Gannon claimed St. Augustine, Florida was founded with a shared thanksgiving meal on September 8, 1565.
Thanksgiving services were routine in what became the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607; the first permanent settlement of Jamestown, Virginia held a thanksgiving in 1610. On December 4, 1619, 38 English settlers celebrated a thanksgiving immediately upon landing at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia. The group's London Company charter specifically required, "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." This celebration has, since the mid-20th century, been commemorated there annually at present-day Berkeley Plantation, the ancestral home of the Harrison family of Virginia.
The Plymouth settlers, known as Pilgrims, had settled in a land abandoned when all but one of the Patuxet Indians died in a disease outbreak. After a harsh winter killed half of the Plymouth settlers, the last surviving Patuxet, Tisquantum, more commonly known by the diminutive variant Squanto (who had learned English and avoided the plague as a slave in Europe), came in at the request of Samoset, the first Native American to encounter the Pilgrims. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them until he too succumbed to the disease a year later. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit also gave food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient. Massasoit had hoped to establish an alliance between the Wampanoag, themselves greatly weakened by the same plague that took the toll on the Patuxet and the better-armed English in their long-running rivalry with a Narragansett tribe that had largely been spared from the epidemic; the tribe reasoned that, given that the Pilgrims had brought women and children, they had not arrived to wage war against them.
The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The exact time is unknown, but James Baker, the Plymouth Plantation vice president of research, stated in 1996, "The event occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around Michaelmas (Sept. 29), the traditional time." Seventeenth-century accounts do not identify this as a Thanksgiving observance, rather it followed the harvest. It included 50 people who were on the Mayflower (all who remained of the 100 who had landed) and 90 Native Americans. The feast was cooked by the four adult Pilgrim women who survived their first winter in the New World (Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White), along with young daughters and male and female servants. According to accounts by Wampanoag descendants, the harvest was originally set up for the Pilgrims alone; the surviving natives, hearing celebratory gunfire and fearing war, arrived to see the feast and were warmly welcomed to join the celebration, contributing their own foods to the meal.
Two colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists (English Dissenters), are not to be confused with Puritans, who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony on the Shawmut Peninsula (current day Boston) in 1630. Both groups were strict Calvinists but differed in their views regarding the Church of England. Puritans wished to remain in the Anglican Church and reform it, while the Pilgrims wanted complete separation from the church.
The Pilgrims held a true Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 following a fast and a refreshing 14-day rain, which resulted in a larger harvest. William DeLoss Love calculates that this thanksgiving was made on Wednesday, July 30, 1623, a day before the arrival of a supply ship with more colonists, but before the fall harvest. In Love's opinion, this 1623 thanksgiving was significant because the order to recognize the event was from civil authority (Governor Bradford), and not from the church, making it likely the first civil recognition of Thanksgiving in New England.
And now you know the rest of the story!
ChefSecret: As you prepare your menu and guest list, write down something you are thankful for about each person.
Quip of the Day: Q: Do you know how the turkey got home for Thanksgiving dinner? A: He took the
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To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Take a breath and count your blessings, and if you have a little extra to share with others, please consider donating to Feeding America and/or American Red Cross.
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