Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!
It is an occasion for families and friends to get together. In our current “globalized” village, with constant migration of people across the globe, Thanksgiving and other such festivities would appear to gain a greater sense of need and purpose.
The history of Thanksgiving – as noted below – outlines the beginnings of a tradition of sharing and caring across two unlikely populations: the native Indians and the immigrant pilgrims from Europe. As a society, we are now in a debate on several issues such as Immigration, Economic concerns and plight across groups of people, Religions and the tolerance/intolerance arising out of them. All of these issues would appear to have been at play, since the first Thanksgiving was celebrated! We need a moment to pass and reflect on them to be certain that we have earned the right to call ourselves as “better than ….”. If we do, we will feel a sense of gratitude and thankfulness, for many things: Who we are, What we have, Who are our in our company, Who is in our care, etc. Each of these, when viewed in the positive light become our individual and collective strength. When viewed otherwise they become our self full filling limitation or weakness. Let us summon the best in us to focus on the strength, so that the limitations take their due place of relative insignificance. Let this Thanksgiving become such celebration of the positives.
All celebrations like Thanksgiving also have rituals associated with them. Here is one for your consideration: As you sit around the table for the Thanksgiving meal, take a moment to mention at least two things you are thankful for, on account of the person sitting next to you. Let this be heard by all others seated around the table. Every one around the table reflects and rejoices on the positives just mentioned. One can be certain, that every one around the table would feel a greater sense of belonging to each other, as this process of thanksgiving moves from one person to the next.
For my part let me say two things to share my thanks to all the readers: Thanks for reading the blogs and thus giving me a chance to enjoy this exercise! Thanks also for those who have shared your comments and suggestions and encouragement. In both these ways, each of you – the readers – have enriched my life! Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!
History of Thanksgiving: http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
When the few who survived the brutal winter and moved ashore, they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English! Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.
In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.