Friday, November 20, 2009

The Thanksgiving Challenge Post 20: Friday's Child

Well, I'm a bit early with my post today, thankfully. All the house work is accomplished and since cereal was the meal of the morning there wasn't a lot of washing up to attend to. As to my thankful post this morning, it's all to do with children and traditions. Now, Mary (a very dear friend from England who regrettably does little blogging these days) asked me to put a line in about why Thanksgiving and why November. Being that everyone knows I'm long winded, I thought I'd tell her a little bit of what I know about this tradition. Here goes...I'm sure that corrections will be along if I make any mistakes...and if I get too long winded,well just skip down to the end where I share little Noah with my readers...(taking a deep breath) here goes:
Thanksgiving is America's preeminent day. It is when we usher in the Christmas season. It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday in the month of November. It has a very interesting history. Its origin can be traced back to the 16th century when the first thanksgiving dinner is said to have taken place.

Journey of Pilgrims
The legendary pilgrims, crossed the Atlantic in the year 1620 in the Mayflower-A 17th Century sailing vessel. About 102 people traveled for nearly two months with extreme difficulty. This was so because they were kept in the cargo space of the sailing vessel. No one was allowed to go on the deck due to terrible storms. The pilgrims comforted themselves by singing Psalms- a sacred song. Nearly every American would love to lay claim to being a descendant of one of the Mayflower passengers. As far as I know, there were no passports given out, but we do know quite a few of their names. As far as I know, none of the Douglas Clan was aboard.

Arrival in Plymouth
The pilgrims reached Plymouth rock on December 11th 1620, after a sea journey of 66 days. I don't think they had an outboard engine, only wind power. Wind power being what it is though , they could not reach the place owing to winds blowing them off course. The original destination was somewhere in the northern part of Virginia. I believe a man was in charge of asking directions, and so there you go. Nearly 46 pilgrims died due to extreme cold in winter. (I take it that the 46th passenger had a close call, but someone poured warm grog down his throat just in the nick of time.) However, in the spring of 1621, Squanto, a native Indian taught the pilgrims to survive by growing food. According to my grandfather, they used fish for fertilizer...but probably only the entrails unless they didn't particularly like the taste of fish. Daddy Dwight (my grandfather) had a love for fish and fishing and would throw entrails, heads and scales into the compost to make great fertilizer. He wouldn't think of wasting the edible parts on plant rows.

Day of Fasting and Prayer
In the summer of 1621, owing to severe drought, pilgrims called for a day of fasting and prayer to please God and ask for a bountiful harvest in the coming season. God answered their prayers and it rained at the end of the day. It saved the corn crops. We still do that to this day. But first we always ask God why he lets us get into these messes...Mammy (my Grandmother) always said He was just trying to get our attention and that maybe if we didn't leave Him out of our daily life, who knew what might be gifted to us! I tend to agree with her. She was infrequently wrong about anything.

First Thanksgiving Feast
It is said that Pilgrims learnt to grow corn, beans and pumpkins from the Indians, which helped all of them survive . In the autumn of 1621, they held a grand celebration where 90 people were invited including Indians. (Okay okay, Native Americans...can't seem to get the fact that they hadn't actually landed in India out of my head. ) The grand feast was organized to thank God for his favors. This communal dinner is popularly known as “The first thanksgiving feast”. There is however, no evidence to prove if the dinner actually took place. It is sort of a "word of mouth" story that came down parent to a game of Gossip...some historians believe that the pilgrims, being quite religious, would definitely have a day of fasting and praying before a huge feast. Whether or not the dinner actually took place is any body's guess. The Colony Leader who supposedly wrote about it could have been dreaming, brought on by extreme hunger.

Turkey and First Thanksgiving Feast
There is no evidence to prove if the customary turkey was a part of the initial feast. According to the first hand account written by the leader of the colony, the food included, ducks, geese, venison, fish, berries etc. But the table without a turkey on it, is a poor table to be sure. Never having a taste for goose or duck, I'd as soon put nothing on the table than go without the traditional turkey. I've never been one to buck tradition. So no venison on the table either...perhaps at the table...some one please pass Bambi some cranberries.

Pumpkin and Thanksgiving Feast
Pumpkin pie, a modern staple adorning every dinner table, is unlikely to have been a part of the first thanksgiving feast. Pilgrims however, did have boiled pumpkin. (Picture me gagging here). Diminishing supplies of flour led to the absence of any kind of bread. Sort of begs the question, did the pilgrims break bread with Squanto and his tribe? So, no cakes or pies. Bummer.

The feast continued for three days and was eaten outside due to lack of space. It was not repeated till 1623, which again witnessed a severe drought. People will just not learn. Don't wait till you're in drastic need and then start begging God to save your belly! Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of thanksgiving in the year 1676. October of 1777 witnessed a time when all the 13 colonies joined in a communal celebration. It also marked the victory over the British. (Sorry Mary, but someone had to say it...Thanksgiving is really just another razzberry to the King...)

After a number of events and changes, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a Day of Thanksgiving in the year 1863. This was due to the continuous efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor. She wrote a number of articles for the cause. Of course it had to be a woman leading the way...because that's what we do. We whisper in men's ears at night when they are sleeping, and when they awaken they have this great idea that they came up with all on their own. (Big sigh here...) So, Mary this is why we have Thanksgiving. We needed a day where we could do the cooking and prop children up in front of the TV to watch the parades and the ginormous balloons floating across the skyscapes of New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Los Angeles...well, all over America really. But the actual bonus to the women is simple. We can get rid of men when the parades are over by turning on the TV to ESPN, where hours and hours of mind numbing game play keeps their attention on the tube and off the fact that we are about to spend three days shopping like maniacs. I hope that clears things up for you Mary (and anyone else who needs the scoop on Thanksgiving.)

Now, I'm sure everyone remembers the sweet poem that we were told as children. It is actually entitled Monday's Child, but I always remember it as Friday's Child. Just contrary that way. Plus I was born on a Friday. goes:

Fridays child poem

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I have a particular child in mind today. His name is Noah Biorkman and his address is
1141 Fountain View Circle

South Lyon, MI 48178

This young man is in last stage cancer and is celebrating Christmas early. He wants Christmas cards. I have mine to Noah already addressed and ready to mail. I learned of Noah through my friend Queenmothermamaw's post yesterday. She highlighted Karrie , one of her followers. It was through Karrie that the story of Noah emerged. Go see.

EDIT ALERT:..this information about Noah is apparently outdated. One day I will learn to check my information no matter where it comes from. Snopes is my friend will be my mantra. But still, go visit both my blogging friends.


Terri Steffes said...

I sent a card to Noah!

Loved your history lesson! You stated it as I teach it... and although we have changed things from the original Thanksgiving, I believe that we also don't cook over open fires. Some things change for the better!

Did you mention popcorn? Popcorn was also a big deal at Thanksgiving. I believe I learned they carried popped corn in leather bags. Can't imagine it to be as good as what we have with butter and salt!

Mary said...

Thank you for the explanation.All I know about it is the tea in the sea!!! I promise to blog very soon I have litres of danson gin to bottle and have just bought a very cute new handbag so I will take a photo or 2 to show Love from a very wet England!

Zuzana said...

Very informative; although I knew the basic history behind the Holiday, this was much more detailed.;)Thank you so much.
Your last paragraph seems just so very sad...

Finding Pam said...

I am sad for Noah and his parents. I pray that God wraps his loving arms around this family and lifts them up with love.

Nicely done on Thanksgiving.

Akelamalu said...

I enjoyed the history lesson Sandi and my thoughts go out to Noah and his family.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

My American friend makes the best pumkin pie ever! And she gave me the history chapter and verse!

How sad about the young lad in his final stages. I could cry at the injustice of it all. Too many people are being diagnosed with cancer bt for one so young, it breaks the heart. I hope he is unindated with cards, I am sure he will be. What a lovely simple request, he must be a real diamond.

Casdok said...

Thank you Mary for asking the question as i didnt know either so have learnt something today.
My heart also goes out to Noah and his family.

Both C and i were born on a saturday!

Nessa said...

Great Thanksgiving history. Thanks.

Flash 55 - Favors

Pinkerbell said...

Aha - I wondered about all those traditions, seem similar to Christmas traditions in Britain, except the pumpkin pie.

Oh poor Noah, hope he gets lots of cards. I will try to find one in the house to send (housebound after surgery at the mo).

You're a caring soul to write about him :-)

Sally said...

So very sad about young Noah; he and his family have my prayers.

Great history lesson, Sandi! :)

Merisi said...

It is incredibly moving to read about a young person suffering. Thank you for bringing attention to his plight.

Anya said...

Very interesting to read Sandi :-)
I love your poem !!!

Have a wonderful weekend
hugs from us

Nettie said...

so pleased to have been guided to your blog Sandi, I shall surely be back to be inspired some more, kind regards, Nettie

Maggie May said...

That was a lovely post, Sandi. Very informative.
How sad about Noah. You are such a kind person to bring him to our attention.

Nuts in May

Anonymous said...

That is just the way I heard it. That was a great post. You are a very involved blogger. Little Noah's story is getting around. I so enjoy being your blogger friend.

jay said...

Fascinating history lesson about the Pilgrim Fathers. Lots of stuff there I didn't know!

Sandi, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Noah's family have appealed to people to please stop sending cards. They have been inundated - as you might expect - and they're very grateful, but they can't cope. See

Jeni said...

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interpretation of Thanksgiving!
As to the poem -makes me wonder at times cause I am a Sunday child. Both my daughters are Thursday's children and my son -I'm not sure now if he was born on a Wednesday or a Thursday! I've sort of lost track of that over the years but if it was Wednesday, he's really been living up to that -"full of woe" thing in recent months! Now, if he'd just straighten up and fly right, I'm thinking all would be just fine!
Great post though and Happy Thanksgiving -a bit early, I know.

��Radio Mihalis Thalassis - Athens Greece said...

Sandi, Good Morning. Thanks for the new you and so many nice to read in

Hi, and health for martian

Shadow said...

i think thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition. each country should have a day of giving thanks.

San said...

Noah is now on my card list!

Oh, how I love all of that history about the Pilgrims and the stories behind our traditions.

Oh, how I love Thanksgiving and our traditions, both as a nation, and on the more intimate family level.

Hilary said...

A lovely and informative post, Sandi. And very kind of you to mention Noah, but according to the request for cards is outdated and his family has asked that people stop sending cards. Here's that page.

Pinkerbell said...

Oh Blimey - I was just checking in to get that address to send a card to. Good job you wrote that things have changed!

prashant said...

I pray that God wraps his loving arms around this family and lifts them up with love.

Work from home India

Lynne said...

I've been wondering about the background to Thanksgiving. Wikipedia wasn't half as interesting as yours. So thanks for telling us.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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