Thanksgiving has long history

Published 1:20 am Wednesday, November 23, 2005

By By CAROLYN BIVENS – Extension Service
Thanksgiving Day is primarily a day for giving thanks for a bountiful harvest.
As such, it's been celebrated for thousands of years. In China, the moon festival marks the end of the harvest celebration. Both the Greeks and Romans had festivals to honor the god and goddess of agriculture.
Today, harvest festivals are held throughout the world. For example, the Octoberfest in Germany and all across the South; and Saint Leopald's Day in Austria.
America's celebration began more than four centuries ago when the pilgrims arrived in the new world too late to plant crops and suffered through a terrible winter. The next spring, the Indians taught them how to cultivate crops, net fish, and other methods of survival. In the fall, there was a plentiful harvest and thus much celebrating.
In 1621, Gov. William Bradford issued a proclamation that Nov. 29 would be set aside as a day for giving thanks, but for many years Thanksgiving was infrequently celebrated. Thanksgiving Day didn't become a national holiday until 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
It may surprise a lot of people that one of the favorite Thanksgiving foods, turkey, was not eaten at the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Their celebration foods included cornbread, duck, eel, goose, leeks, pumpkins and various types of squashes, seafood, succotash, venison, watercress, and wild berries. Popcorn was also served at the first meal.
Now in the 21st Century – during National Family Week we add to family favorite recipes and carry on old and new traditions.
Every year for as long as I can remember, my family has enjoyed the friendly rivalry of the Turkey Day Classics – (Tuskegee University Golden Tigers and Alabama State University Hornets) in Montgomery. After the game we return to my sister's home and enjoy our feast. There is nothing like the warmth, love and camaraderie of FAMILY.
We at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System – Escambia County Office wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving Celebration.

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