In Autumn of 1621, the first Thanksgiving of the United States was held in Plymouth.
There where 53 known Pilgrims who survived the Mayflower excursion from England to America. They arrived in December of 1620.
After the territorial fighting between the Pilgrims and the American Indians, they began to see how they could provide one another with the needed items for survival.
The pilgrims had metals and artillery, and the Indians had skins for clothes and agricultural knowledge. The Indians taught the pilgrims what to plant and how to harvest the crops, because the climate and soil was quite different from England’s.
Unity grew between the pilgrims and indians. Their families became friends as they lived together.
Nearly 12 months after the pilgrims arrival they celebrated their first harvest with the American Indians.
This harvest is known as the first Thanksgiving celebration of our country.
Since this time, Thanksgiving has created many traditions. The center of these traditions starts with family and friends celebrating together.
“Thanksgiving for me is always about being with my family in Kentucky. The food is great but it’s getting to spend time with the people you don’t see everyday that I look forward to the most,” Kristin Stepinski, MCCC student said.
Many families have the tradition of sitting around the big screen and watching the annual NFL rivalry football games.
“I really like watching the Lions get beat down year after year before dinner. Our disgust for the Lions really brings the family together,” Casey Cheap, MCCC student said.
The NFL national tradition began in 1876 when the first intercollegiate championship was held on Thanksgiving Day. As football rivalries grew in popularity, more fans looked forward to watching their team play on Turkey Day.
A tradition for many children is watching and waiting for the first appearance of Santa in the Thanksgiving Day parade. Over 46 million people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade from home and in NYC.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade first began in 1924 with singing, dancing and simple floats. It has grown into a yearly tradition for NYC dwellers and visitors. Many people work together to bring the parade to life.
Other cities hold Thanksgiving day parades, Philadelphia being one of them.
“We just started going to Philly because my sister lives there. We go to downtown Philly and watch the parade because the city is pretty much decorated for the holiday,” Sarah Zinner, MCCC student said.
Playing traditional games brings some families together at the Thanksgiving Holiday, as well.
For MCCC student Stefanie Thomasma her family has a generational tradition to the game they play.
“All the women in the family play Mexican train dominoes around the table. There is usually around 10 to 12 that play with ages ranging from 20 to 80. We play with cousins, grandma, aunts, second aunts, daughters, grand daughters and mothers, it is my favorite family tradition,” Thomasma said.
The tradition of preparing and cooking the turkey is one of the most important parts to the Thanksgiving meal. Some get up at four o’clock in the morning to butter, season and stuff the turkey before it slowly cooks for eight hours.
Others deep fry it southern style, salt encrust it the New England way or prepare it with a Hawaiian rub.
Once the turkey has cooked to a juicy moist taste, carving begins.
The wishbone is then left and if your from a family which breaks the wishbone, the fight is on! As two people tug on the wishbone, each makes a wish, whoever breaks with the larger side is said to receive their wish, and the first choice of meat.
This tradition of breaking the wishbone, began in 322 B.C. by the Etruscans.
The Etruscans were invaders of Rome and when they conquered England they brought the tradition with them. The tradition was then carried over to the states when the English Colonists settled.
With the turkey carved, the potatos mashed, the corn buttered and the gravy thickened to perfection everyone gathers around the table.
For many giving thanks before digging into the meal is a tradition. Each person takes a moment or two to remember the ways they were blessed that year and give thanks for them.
Some voice thankfulness for their loved one returning from the war. Others are thankful for restored health, healed or renewed relationships.
Many give thanks for the love of their family and friends as an abundance of food shared.
Every year a new tradition is born, but the one tradition which lies at the heart of them all began on the very first Thanksgiving and has continued on. It is the joy, the laughter and the love shared between family and friends as they come together to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday.
For more information check out. www.pilgrimhall.org/1stthnks.htm and http://genealogy.about.com/od/holidays/tp/thanksgiving.htm.