Most of us learned in grade school about the origins of Thanksgiving. We donned Pilgrim hats, Indian headbands and turkey costumes to portray the historical beginnings of our popular holiday.
We learned that after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1621, they celebrated what became known as the first Thanksgiving with the friendly Indians who lived there. The celebration of the first successful harvest in the New World was a feast that lasted for three days, and included food traditional to the Pilgrims and also to the Indians. In 1789, George Washington announced that there would be a day of Thanksgiving to mark the end of the Revolutionary War.
It wasn’t until the 1800’s, however, that Thanksgiving became a true American tradition. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. In l939, President Franklin Roosevelt changed the official date to the third Thursday in November.
Today, the holiday has become a fall festival for the celebration and gathering together of family and friends. Thanksgiving is a day of feasting, and is all about food. Being abundant in the earlier days of the celebration, the wild turkey became the icon of the holiday meal. Other meats, such as venison and pork were also probably on the menu. In addition to the traditional food offerings of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries and pies, homes are decorated in fall themes and colors.
Dressing up your Thanksgiving table with festive decorations is an important part of this holiday celebration. Traditional Thanksgiving decorations are inspired by the harvest, and are usually in colors of orange, red, yellows and browns.
Autumn leaves are festive and easy to find! Pumpkins and squashes hollowed out make great holders for flowers and candles. Try succulents in a pumpkin. Fruits such as apples, persimmons, oranges and cranberries can add wonderful, colorful accents. Corn comes in many colors and is another great decoration for the table. For a country flavor, try combining your flowers with fruits in Mason jars. Even throw some nuts and acorns around the center of the table! The ideas are endless, and it is much more fun and affordable to do your table decorations yourself!