Thanksgiving: Your Holiday Historical Overview

ThanksgivingWith Halloween now in the rear-view mirror, the holiday season is officially in full swing with Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away. Between family togetherness, time with friends and mouth-watering dishes prepared with pure love,  what’s not to love about Thanksgiving? Although, like most holidays, it has grown beyond its origins but has a rich history which we’d like to expand upon and explore further.

The Harvest

Thanksgiving is, above all, the celebration of the harvest. In a broad sense, the harvest is a time when something has grown to fruition and is ready to be enjoyed. This can refer, as it most often does, to food and produce, but also to one’s youth or personal relationships. By celebrating the harvest, you celebrate a time of plenty and abundance, and you express it through love to your friends and family.
The tradition of Thanksgiving stems from after the English Reformation under Henry VIII. At that time, there was an over-abundance of Catholic holidays, and while many were eliminated entirely with the break from Catholicism, many others were replaced. Some zealous Puritans hoped to eliminate or replace all holidays, and as such, many were replaced with days of fasting, or with days of Thanksgiving so as to maintain the importance of the day, but change the reason from holiday to religious observance.

Thanksgiving in the U.S.

In the United States, as many people know, the English carried on the tradition of days of Thanksgiving, and in particular, the tradition is traced to the Pilgrims in Plymouth placed around 1621. This story is steeped in myth and legend, but what two accounts both verify is, that somewhere during the harvest season, natives and pilgrims came together for a feast that included fowl, venison, and corn treats.
As time went on, most Thanksgiving celebrations were run and set up by church leaders until George Washington declared the first national Thanksgiving in 1789. With the advent of tradition, besides proclaiming the holiday, the President of the United States now pardons a Turkey annually, allowing it to be spared from the Thanksgiving festivities. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln, at the onset of the Civil War, and likely as a political move declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday of November. President Theodore Roosevelt would later change it to be the 4th Thursday of November to avoid clashing with Christmas.
Over the course of a couple hundred years, what was once a Puritan’s pious replacement for a Catholic holiday has developed into the day of stretchy pants and pumpkin pie we all know and love. So from all of us here at Northeast Insurance, have an extra serving of yams and a leg of turkey, but most importantly, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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