Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Time to give thanks

November 23, 2005

Most Americans are familiar with the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving feast in 1621, but few realize that it was not the first festival of its kind in North America.

Long before Europeans set foot in the Americas, native peoples sought to ensure a good harvest with dances and rituals such as the Green Corn Dance of the Cherokees.

The first Thanksgiving service known to be held by Europeans in North America occurred on May 27, 1578, in Newfoundland. As president, George Washington proclaimed in 1789 that the people of the United States observe "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer" on Thursday, November 26.

Most of the credit for establishing an annual Thanksgiving holiday may be given to Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of the Lady's Magazine and Godey's Lady's Book in 1827. After 36 years of crusading, Sarah won her battle. On Oct. 3, 1863, buoyed by the Union forces' victory at Gettysburg, Pa., President Lincoln proclaimed that Nov. 26 would be a national Thanksgiving Day, and the day would be observed every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date twice, in 1939 and 1940. He changed it to the third Thursday of November in order to give the Depression-era merchants more selling time before Christmas. This was met with popular resistance, mainly because the change required rescheduling football games and parades.

In 1941, a Congressional joint resolution officially set the fourth Thursday of November again as a "National Holiday for Thanksgiving."

Today, Thanksgiving is a time when many families come together, and many churches are open for special services. We have both Native Americans and immigrants to thank for the opportunity to observe this special day.

We know it is good to look at our lives and be thankful for the many blessings that we have, not only on Thanksgiving but daily.

Every family has its own tradition for celebrating. Through the years, after the delicious meal at our house it was out to the back yard for a game of basketball.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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