In this episode of The Productive Woman, we're talking about the history of Thanksgiving, what it means to give thanks and be truly grateful, and what I am most thankful for this year.
Giving thanks for what matters most
This episode will be published the day before Thanksgiving here in the United States. This year my husband and I will be hosting a family meal on Thursday. My mom and stepdad will be here, my youngest sister and her husband and son, and three of my five kids will be here, along with five of our grandchildren. I thought I’d share some thoughts about Thanksgiving--both the holiday and the practice.
The holiday--a brief history.
Those of us in the U.S. know what it’s about, but it’s been a long time since I looked at the story behind it.
According to an article on the History Channel website, “Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2021 occurs on Thursday, November 25. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.” (The article goes into the history of the original colonists and the indigenous peoples who helped them survive.)
I’ve learned that Thanksgiving is not solely an American holiday. According to Wikipedia, “Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. A similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.”
My childhood memories of Thanksgiving center around home and school. At school we learned about what was often described as the “first Thanksgiving feast” shared by the colonists in New England and the nearby indigenous people to celebrate a successful harvest. At home, Thanksgiving was always about food and family. My mom would cook a turkey and the trimmings. When we lived near extended family, we’d often gather together, with all the moms in the kitchen cooking up all the traditional foods, and then the family would gather around the table to share the meal.