The Roundup -

By Lois Kerr 

Thanksgiving Myths & Trivia

 

The first Thanksgiving did NOT feature some of our most treasured traditional food, including cranberries, wheat bread and potatoes.

We all look forward to Thanksgiving Day, when the thoughts of turkey, mashed potatoes, wheat bread and butter, cranberries, and corn on the cob keep us salivating for weeks. Oh, and don’t forget the pumpkin pie to finish off a meal that causes the average American to eat a day and a half worth of calories, or an average of 4500 of these little heat units, in just a few short hours.

Oh, and by the way, the Pilgrims did NOT eat any of the above for Thanksgiving Day; potatoes were a little known food, all corn was ground for meal, there was no wheat crop so there was no bread as we know it, and there were no pumpkins. All we know for sure that the Pilgrims ate on that first Thanksgiving was venison; and if they did include turkey as part of the feast, it would have been wild turkeys, not the domesticated birds we have on our tables today. The Pilgrims also did not eat their meal with forks as they didn’t have forks yet at that time. However, the Pilgrims did have beer, a drink they swallowed in copious amounts.

Thanksgiving also was not originally meant as a religious holiday of any kind. It served as a celebration for people grateful to be alive and thankful for a good harvest. Pilgrim leader Governor William Bradford organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 and invited the neighboring Indians to the feast, which lasted for three days and included games as well as food. The Pilgrims considered the feast more of a harvest festival, not a religious celebration, as Pilgrims would never have tolerated festivities of any sort at a true religious event. Actual ‘Thanksgiving Days’ were just that: days spent in prayer, and these prayer days occurred at any time of the year.

The idea of having turkey and cranberries and all the other foods associated with the November feast comes from the Victorians, who prepared Thanksgiving using the foods we know today. They also made Thanksgiving a national holiday, beginning in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln issued a presidential Thanksgiving proclamation. Before this proclamation, Americans living outside of New England did not even celebrate the holiday.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday in October.

Somewhere down the line, turkey became the favorite food to serve at the Thanksgiving feast, hence the name ‘Turkey Day”. By the first week in November, stores have huge stocks of turkeys on hand, and these delicious fowl remain abundantly available through the first of the new year.

Turkeys originated in North and Central America over 10 million years ago. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour, and they can run nearly 25 miles per hour. Domestic turkeys cannot fly.

The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed 86 lbs., about the size of a Doberman Pinscher. The Turkey Trot, a ballroom dance popular in the early 1900s, got its name from the short jerky steps that a turkey makes. The dance became quite popular because the Vatican denounced it as suggestive.

Nearly 45 million turkeys with a corresponding 525 million pounds of meat are cooked and eaten for Thanksgiving in the U.S. Ninety per cent of all Thanksgiving feasts have turkey as the main course, while 50% of all Christmas dinners feature this tasty fowl.

Whether you eat turkey or some other meat for the upcoming holiday, and regardless if you celebrate using traditional foods or something else more to your liking, the Golden Roundup wishes everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

 

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