Even though Thanksgiving started out as a celebration of giving between people of different cultures actually different worlds, by sharing food and conversations the new world (America) became a thriving society. Thanksgiving continued growing for three centuries, in the last century life has added one major past time that is Americas most active event to coincide with Thanksgiving, shopping. The day after Thanksgiving being Black Friday a serious day of shopping and the day when retailers finally get in the black, after working eleven months to turn a profit.
For more than two centuries in the yet to be United States, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It was not until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day held each November.
Thanksgiving becomes a tradition
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. “The reason that we have so many myths associated with Thanksgiving is that it is an invented tradition. It doesn’t originate in any one event. It is based on the New England puritan Thanksgiving, which is a religious Thanksgiving, and the traditional harvest celebrations of England and New England and maybe other ideas like commemorating the pilgrims. All of these have been gathered together and transformed into something different from the original parts.” – James W. Baker, Senior Historian at Plimoth Plantation
President Franklin Roosevelt decreed that the Thanksgiving holiday should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month in 1939, after a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association. If Thanksgiving lands on the occasional fifth Thursday, as occurred in 1939 in order to extend the holiday shopping season by a week the holiday would be held on the fourth Thursday instead of the last of the month. The decision sparked great controversy, and was still unresolved two years later, when the House of Representatives passed a resolution making the last Thursday in November a legal national holiday. The Senate amended the resolution, setting the date as the fourth Thursday, and the House eventually agreed.
Politics over a holiday
Some things never change, we are still dealing with a government that just cannot work together and stop playing politics with every event they have presented to them for a vote. Instead of refining, the skills of making a better United States (emphasis on United) the House and the Senate find joy in making sure, we Americans watch in amazement at their inability to work together. At least President Roosevelt got it right on the side of commerce and made sure that there were more days to shop then fewer. I guess shopping has been an American way of life, long before most of us were alive.
May each of you, your family and friends have a most wonderful day together this Thanksgiving and throughout the Holiday Season? If you have any questions or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 916-284-8841.