Thanksgiving Day arrives in Lassen County and all across our great land in just two days — Thursday, Nov. 22. Let us pause for a moment here at the Lassen County Times and wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Of course, the Native peoples celebrated the harvest season long before the Europeans ever arrived in North America, and when the Europeans came, they too held thanksgiving celebrations in the New World long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
Consider, for example, Sir Martin’s Thanksgiving, held in 1578 in a land that later would become Canada — a celebration led by the English seaman and privateer Martin Frobisher (who later helped sink the Spanish Armada) and the crews of his 13 ships for their “strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places” as they sought a Northwest Passage from Europe to Asia and back again.
While our neighbors to the north celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October (giving Canadians a three-day holiday weekend), our Thanksgiving celebration is truly a uniquely American event.
Our American Thanksgiving is held the fourth Thursday of November. It is loosely based on the first Thanksgiving — a three-day celebration held in 1621 by 53 Pilgrims and 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe, even though other Thanksgivings had been celebrated earlier — as early as 1607 in Virginia.
The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation held their celebration sometime between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, according to researchers. They place the celebration sometime around Sept. 29. Curiously, contemporary sources refer to the event as a celebration of the plantation’s first harvest, not a day of thanksgiving.
Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gather the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company for almost a week … ”
On Nov. 5, 1963, just days before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God.”
Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday during the Civil War.
Today, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a day when families come together for a great meal on a day that launches the traditional holiday season.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is perhaps the busiest shopping day of the year as families prepare for Christmas. Did you know Americans consume more food on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year?
This Thanksgiving, may your home be filled with love, happiness and Thanksgiving for all the gifts we’ve been given this past year.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.