In a couple weeks, families all across the country will pull up a chair, grab their forks and dig into one of the most celebrated meals of the year -- Thanksgiving Dinner. It's a time for reflection, appreciation and giving thanks for all the people and blessings that surround us. But behind those tasty sides and sweet desserts are some interesting stories about Thanksgiving's roots.
The Traditional Meal Inspired the Creation of TV Dinners
Not every American will be spending their holiday gathered around a big table, passing around an assortment of carefully crafted homemade dishes. Some will be enjoying a different kind of meal that features a frozen turkey dinner that emerges from the microwave. In fact, this popular form of meal originated from the traditional November holiday. Back in 1953, when frozen-food company C.A. Swanson & Sons over-ordered 260 tons of turkeys, a company salesman suggested freezing the surplus meat and combining with other sides dishes in a tray that Pan Am Airlines had been testing for in-flight meal service. The result was the first "TV Dinner", which sold in 1954 for just 98 cents. Today, TV dinners adorn the frozen aisles of grocery markets across the globe.
Fast, Not Feast?
Thanksgiving was originally organized to be a fast in lieu of the feast many American's know it as today. Devout Plymouth Rock settlers typically gave thanks through prayers and abstaining from food. But the Wampanoag Indians who joined in the 3-day celebration contributed their own rituals, including dance, games and food, from Nickommoh -- an ancient festival that means, "to give away".
Everyone has their own favorite part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and whether it is mashed potatoes, stuffing or tangy cranberry sauce, it's safe to say turkey is usually the star of the day. Three towns in the U.S. are named after the featured bird. North Carolina, Texas, and Louisiana all have their own Turkeys -- towns that each have fewer than 500 residents.
Name That Bird!
Some legends say the turkey's name originated from Christopher Columbus who incorrectly thought he had arrived in India when he had in fact discovered "The New World," and named the feathered animal "tuka," an Indian term for peacock.
Mary Had a Little...Turkey?
Most of us have heard the popular nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but its author, book editor Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, is also credited with creating the modern concept of Thanksgiving. Josepha came across am early colonial passage that described a large meal following a successful harvest that featured 4 large turkeys and was shared with Native Americans from the Wampanoag tribe. Inspired by the passage, Josepha included many traditional holiday recipes for stuffed turkey and pie in her magazines and penned editorials about the need to recognize "Thanksgiving" day. Soon after, her writings inspired a myriad of exaggerated stories and paintings that featured the "first Thanksgiving meal." Additionally, Hale relentlessly petitioned Abraham Lincoln to recognize the day with a federal holiday before it was announced as an official holiday in 1863.
Every holiday features some fascinating back-stories and Thanksgiving is no different. While we're enjoying time with family this Thanksgiving, we'll be giving thanks for all the great people -- students, families and staff that make our network of Catholic schools some of the best and highest ranked private elementary schools in Buffalo, WNY and throughout the region. We hope you learned something new about Thanksgiving, and now you might even be able to wow Uncle Mike while he's pouring gravy over that cornbread stuffing!