The Thanksgiving Meal by Leah Wilderotter

To kick off this holiday season, we start off by saying what we are thankful for and spending time with friends and family. Here at Allaire Village we celebrate our Day of Thanks by thanking our volunteers for their support of the village and for keeping Allaire’s history alive! We end this event day by having a big Thanksgiving meal together. During this meal, we have the staples that are at a normal Thanksgiving meal: mash potatoes, vegetables, cornbread, pumpkin pie, and of course, the turkey. I have always wondered if the people at the first Thanksgiving ate the same thing that we do today.  I must not be the only one with this question so I took to the internet to get some answers. Each week there will be a posting about the different foods that we eat on Thanksgiving today compared to what they ate in the past and the history associated with it. This week, I will be talking about a brief history of Thanksgiving and then focus specifically on potatoes and their connection to the holiday.

Brief History of Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving was recorded to happen in the year 1621. The meal was between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians.  Before the day was called Thanksgiving, the event was known as Autumn Harvest Feast which is known in history as the “First Thanksgiving”.  Thanksgiving for the Pilgrims did not happen every year, only when the harvest was good. The settlers often fasted before the big meal. As the years progressed, Thanksgiving changed dates and some states made it a holiday but the day was not very consistent. The government wanted Thanksgiving to be a way for the people to come together.  Thanksgiving was used in times of rough patches when the country was unstable. Every state celebrated Thanksgiving on a different day until 1863 when President Lincoln made it a national holiday.  If you would like to learn more about Thanksgiving traditions in the 1800s, come and join us for are celebration on Sunday Nov. 24th to learn more!

Potatoes History during Thanksgiving

Mash potatoes are my favorite food dish on Thanksgiving.  I don’t think I would have made it through the first Thanksgiving because they did not have potatoes on the table! At this time, in 1621, potatoes were still in South America and had not been introduced yet to the people living in the colonies. It was not until the 1770s that the potato was introduced to the United States. At the time, they were easy to grow and cheap to buy. By the 1800s, mash potatoes were a staple in American cookbooks.

The most fascinating piece of information that I learned was that Thanksgiving was not a national holiday until Lincoln was president.  Next week, we will be looking at the vegetables and pumpkin pie that are a common the tradition of Thanksgiving.

Written by Leah Wilderotter

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