We usually celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast surrounded by our families and filled with joyful conversation. After being thankful for the meal and the time spent with the family at dinner, avoid prodding questions from family members with some trivia about Thanksgiving. Here are some to get you started:
Thanksgiving is a Pilgrim Celebration
No, it’s not a Pilgrim’s celebration, but a “pilgrim” celebration. Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill proclaiming that day as a national Thanksgiving holiday, but it took more than 300 years before that date was finally officiated. Thanksgiving moved from a three-day feast during the harvest season to the third Thursday of December, then from February 19, by order of George Washington, to any day the governor of the state declared it. By the time Thanksgiving finally settled on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941 by Abraham Lincoln and his successors, it had moved through the calendar, much like a pilgrim on a quest for a settlement.
Thanksgiving is a Literal Holiday
It is easy to see how Thanksgiving can be literal. This national holiday is celebrated to give thanks for everything that we are grateful for – but did you know that another element in the origin of Thanksgiving is also very literal? The early settlers celebrated Thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest in 1621 with the Wampanoag Indians, the tribe that taught them how to work the land. The Wampanoag Indians, whose name literally means “easterners” in their native Narragansett language, are called such because they lived in Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts lying east of Narragansett Bay. How’s that for literal?
There are three busted myths you have to remember about the Thanksgiving feast/harvest celebration in 1621. The first is that the Pilgrims are not pilgrims; they are Puritans who went aboard the Mayflower to find settlement in the new land during the Reformation. Second, they neither wore all-black garb nor accessorized with shiny buckles, as they are often depicted wearing. In fact, both the Puritans and the Wampanoags wore colorful and cheerful attire. Finally, the Wampanoags did not wear huge feathered headdresses.
Image by Logga Wigler | shutterstock
One of the staple foods of the Wampanoags that became part of the Thanksgiving harvest was corn, also called maize. Did you know that maize is actually a sacred food for Native Americans? The Wampanoags shared their roots with the ancient great civilizations of America such as the Mayans and Aztecs. According to Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Quiché Maya, humans were created by the ancient gods using yellow and white maize as the main ingredients. So if anyone calls you “corny” this Thanksgiving, you can tell them that it is just part of being human.
Make this year’s Thanksgiving conversation more interesting with a few facts up your sleeve.