Thanksgiving has long, rich history

Thanksgiving becomes a time for families
to celebrate and continue traditionsFrom eating pumpkin custard for three days, to turkey and potatoes for a night, Thanksgiving has changed in the past 400 years.

“My favorite dish is corn soufflé,” Julia Effenberger, seventh grade communications major, said.

Thanksgiving has a long history. The pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower at the colony Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.  After a harsh winter, only half of them survived due to a disease called scurvy, lack of shelter, and general conditions while on board the Mayflower.

The Wampanoag Indians found the pilgrims and taught them how to survive. They learned how to grow food and build structures.

In November 1621, the pilgrims and the Indians reaped their first harvest. They held a festival that lasted over one week, including a feast that lasted three of the days. That historic feast would later become the Thanksgiving holiday of today.

“Thanksgiving did not become a regular holiday until the 1940’s. (In 1939) President Franklin Roosevelt changed the day to the third Thursday in November. In 1941, this was changed back to the fourth Thursday in November,” Douglas Battle, social studies teacher, said.

The pilgrim’s Thanksgiving meal was quite different than today’s. Their meal consisted of venison, clams, lobster, seal, and swans. Today, a typical Thanksgiving meal included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce.

“Sweet corn did not exist yet. Mashed potatoes were not in the area. Also, there was turkey at the first Thanksgiving, but it was wild and much smaller,” Battle said.

To celebrate reaping their first harvest, the pilgrims and the Indians held activities. They played games such as Tug-of-war, and an Indian game called pin.

“To me, spending time with my mom and brother at Thanksgiving has been a lasting memory,” Battle said.

So, it seems there were many differences in how people celebrate Thanksgiving today. But, the one thing the pilgrims had in common with Americans was to take the opportunity to give thanks.