The fourth Thursday in November is the day that Americans at home and abroad gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, sometimes (often) called Turkey Day.
Talking of turkeys, the 1993 movie Addams Family Values starring the fabulous Anjelica Houston, the dreamy Raul Julia and a young Christina Ricci was anything but. Partly set in a summer camp for children, the film portrayed Thanksgiving as a traditional feast celebrating the meal shared by the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe. Sadly, the meal did not end well (spoiler alert), but if you haven’t seen it, make a date to watch… it’s brilliant.
But what of the actual history of Thanksgiving?
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared November 26th as a day to remember family members lost in the Civil War and give thanks for all God’s blessings, he then decreed that the holiday should be kept on the last Thursday of November every year.
Then, in 1939 President Franklin D Roosevelt moved the holiday to the second to last Thursday to allow more time for shopping in between Thanksgiving and Christmas… Good old FDR, the retailers friend.
Nowadays it’s the fourth Thursday of November and everyone seems happy.
But why do we eat Turkey?
Well, it’s possibly a reference to that first meal when the Pilgrims (including some from Dorking), broke bread with the Native Americans, there is no proof that they ate turkey but fowl of some description would certainly have been on the menu.
A much more likely source for the tradition is Alexander Hamilton. Yes, THAT Alexander Hamilton who once said ‘No citizen of the United States shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day’…we think he said it, perhaps he sang it?
Today, the ‘traditional’ thanksgiving dinner is very well established and alongside the turkey, favourite ‘sides’ include turkey, winter squash, mashed potato, sweet potato and yams, greens, stuffing, cranberry sauce and plenty of gravy.
Whether you’re at home or abroad and celebrating with family or friends we wish all our American chums a very happy Thanksgiving… enjoy your day and don’t forget, Friday is leftovers day.