Celebrate the harvest, the beauty of Autumn, celebrate gratitude!

250 million – the preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the United States in 2009. That’s 8 percent less than the number raised in 2008. (Source: USDA Agricultural Statistics Service)
709 million pounds – the forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2009. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 400 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (190 million). New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 16 million to 54 million pounds. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
2.2 billion bushels – the total volume of wheat (the essential ingredient of bread, rolls, and pie crust) produced in the United States in 2009. North Dakota and Kansas accounted for 34 percent of the nation’s wheat production. (Source: USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service)

What did you learn in grade-school? I learned that Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims , who wore tall hats, leggings and big gold buckles on their shoes. They were starving when they landed at Plymouth Rock and the local “Indians”  taught them to place a dead fish into the ground with each corn seed that they intended to grow. The Pilgrims were so grateful that they invited the Indians to a harvest feast in late November and served turkey and pumpkin pie with a horn-of-plenty on their table as a center-piece.

Obviously, every American school-teacher of the era taught something similar because the History.com website dispels all of these myths except the fish planting-technique. They go into a good amount of detail so I’ll refrain from paraphrasing and just recommend that you click the link. What did you learn about Thanksgiving?

Harvest Festivals are traditional to every cultural group and take many forms.  What they all have in common is the concept of gratitude to nature or to one’s gods who provided the harvest, the food that would sustain the clan or tribe until the next harvest.  This link to the BBC Harvest Festival site will give you some ideas that you may wish to incorporate into your own Thanksgiving celebration.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade heralds the beginning of the Christmas shopping season which begins the day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. Wiki says “the term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (i.e., posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (i.e., turning a profit).” The US also has an anti-Thanksgiving component as many Native Americans and supporters spend a ‘Day of National Mourning’ at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts as they have each year on Thanksgiving Day since 1970. Here is a wickedly funny Reenactment of the First Thanksgiving by a group of kids, their writer, film-crew and a heck of a director. It reminded me of the second Addams Family movie.


About.com article about the cornucopia

Wikipedia Thanksgiving link

History Channel Thanksgiving link

BBC Harvest Festival link