Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Much Do You Know About Thanksgiving

I can't believe how fast this year flew by--in two days it will be Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday & I think it's safe to say it's a majority of American's favorite. Most people claim they cherish it because of the food. I won't dispute that, but I love it for the warmth & gaiety it brings......being with family & friends starting in mid-afternooon & celebrating long into the night. Somehow we all feel a little closer to each other on this day as we treasure what is around us & how lucky we are to have one another.

This week in schools across the United States, children are wearing the same black Pilgrim hats or colorful feathers, if they choose to be Indians--all made the week before from construction paper as an art project. They will sit down to a feast of turkey, stuffing, cranberries & pumpkin pie believing they are recreating the original Plymouth, MA Thanksgiving.

We were all raised thinking this was a fairly accurate picture of the meal the Indians shared with the Pilgrims & we passed this lore down to our children as it was told to us. The only fact that is correct is the 1st Thanksgiving was celebrated in the fall of 1621. This rest is all myth......read on for some interesting truths about their holiday.

First, how many of these questions about Thanksgiving can you answer correctly (scroll down to the bottom for the answers):
1. How long have turkeys been in North America?
2. What character has been in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade the most often?
3. What president thought Thanksgiving was a "ridiculous holiday"?
4. What two teams played the first football game in 1934 on Thanksgiving?
5. What famous person wanted the turkey to be our national bird?
6. What state has the most wild turkeys than any other?
7. What state consumes the most turkeys?

As we all know, the Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate Thanksgiving a year after sailing across the Atlantic on the Mayflower. But here are some facts that are not known or have been misconceived about the early Thanksgivings:

1. The average age of a Mayflower passenger was 32 & the oldest was 64. There were 102 people who originally boarded the ship along with 2 dogs. Two women were pregnant & one gave birth on the voyage to America. The most popular man's name was John.

2. The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast which lasted three days.
3. The Indian men & the Pilgrim men competed against each other in various sporting games. The Pilgrim women who survived the year & their teenage daughters prepared the meal--some historians say it was 4 women & 2 girls.

4. The native Americans wore deerskins & furs, not blankets.

5. Pilgrims are shown as wearing only black & white clothing, but actually they only wore that for Sundays & formal occasions. Women dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet & gray; while men wore clothing in white, beige, earthy green & brown.

6. Potatoes, pumpkin pies, milk & cranberries were not foods present on the 1st Thanksgiving feast table. There was no sugar to make pies & cranberry sauce. Pumpkins were stewed & cranberries were used to dye fabrics & for medicinal purposes by the Indians. No potatoes were grown in North America at that time.

7. Lobster, eel, cod, wild turkey, duck, rabbit, chicken, squash, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, walnuts, onions, leeks, parsnips, currants, dried fruit, maple syrup & honey, radishes, corn, cabbage, carrots & eggs are thought to make up the Pilgrim's feast. The wild fowl they ate was very lean with little meat, not at all like the plump poultry we have today. It's been recorded the Indians arrived bringing five deer as their contribution to the meal.

8. The Pilgrims didn't use forks. They ate with spoons, knives & their fingers. The main beverage was beer that they had brought with them on the Mayflower.

9. Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, campaigned for 20 years to get Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. Her campaign spanned five presidents. It was Abraham Lincoln who was finally convinced & in 1863, he declared Thanksgiving to be celebrated the last Thursday in November as a national holiday.  She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme, "Mary Had A Little Lamb".

10. In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to a week earlier than usual so the Christmas holiday shopping season would last longer. There was a tremendous outpouring of public disapproval over the next two years so, in 1941, he admitted his mistake & officially declared the fourth Thursday in November a national holiday for Thanksgiving.

As President Roosevelt had the foresight to see--this is the season of shopping. Not just for family & friends, but for your loyal customers as well.

Keep in mind that even though you should have plenty of promotional imprinted products on hand to give out, these should not be given out as holiday gifts. Your clients won't jump up & down with the .50 pen they've been writing with all year or the letter opener they've used everyday. Customized promotional items should definitely be used as holiday gifts, but they need to be special & more unique than what is usually distributed among the public for company recognition.

It's not what you spend, but what you give. Whether it's a $1 candy bar boldly displaying your logo or a $50 computer laptop case discreetly showing your company name, your customized promotional gift should be something you haven't handed out during the year. Choose a gift that will make your clients feel their business means something to you.

Now, for the answers to the questions in the beginning:
1. 2000 years
2. Snoopy
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. Detroit Lions & the Chicago Bears
5. Benjamin Franklin
6. Minnesota
7. California
How many did you correctly answer?

Comparing the Pilgrim's menu to ours, I'm glad to be celebrating Thanksgiving in the 21st century--although I wouldn't mind lobster as an option.  Wishing you all a very

Ronni Sherman

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