Hundreds of millions of Americans observe Thanksgiving each year, and the event carries almost 400 years of traditions and celebration. You might get up at 4 AM to put a turkey in the oven, you’ll light the tapers of your autumn floral arrangement, and you’ll have leftovers that last for days. However, it’s easy to forget why we celebrate Thanksgiving, so here’s a quick history of the holiday and the traditions we observe today.
A Successful Harvest and the First Thanksgiving
Today, we celebrate Thanksgiving as a day to get together with family and eat as much turkey as we can, but the holiday has gone through some dramatic changes over the past several centuries. First observed in 1621 after the Pilgrims had their first successful harvest, Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration between the settlers and the Native Americans. Without help from the native people, the Pilgrims may not have survived past that first terrible winter in 1620.
Although families today feast on giant turkeys, no actual record exists of the Pilgrims eating turkey. One of the only concrete features of the first Thanksgiving menu is the deer brought by the Wampanoag, who were natives invited by the governor for the feast.
Historians believe the food served at the first Thanksgiving was probably prepared with spices commonly used by the Native Americans of the era. The event was attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag, and instead of bringing back turkey, the Pilgrim hunters probably brought back duck, lobster, and shellfish.
Celebrating Thanksgiving Today with Family
Millions of families celebrate a very traditional Thanksgiving with turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, but the simple act of getting together with loved ones or friends has become important to many people around the country. Some families eat out for Thanksgiving and let someone else do the cooking while some couples celebrate with close friends and cook a wide variety of dishes from Italian cuisine to Mexican food.
Although the Thanksgiving celebrations of today are quite different from what the Pilgrims celebrated so many centuries ago, the idea of giving thanks for family and friends and helping those in need remains a strong part of the holiday season. It’s a holiday everyone can celebrate whether they have a huge extended family or just a few close friends.
Don’t forget to order your Thanksgiving flowers early from Peoples Flowers. Take a beautiful floral centerpiece as a gift if you’re traveling, or decorate with flowers in beautiful autumn hues at your Thanksgiving dinner celebration.