Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts

Nov 18, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving next Week

Hope your Holiday is filled with good fun, good family, good friends, good drinks, and good food!

Nov 20, 2015

Turkeys and Bowling

Late eighteenth and early nineteenth century prizes given out during bowling tournaments were often food items, such as a basket filled with various grocery items, a large ham, etc. Around Thanksgiving in the United States, turkeys became common prizes. At some point, one tournament decided to give away a turkey to people who managed to bowl three strikes in a row. This practice spread and eventually embedded itself in common bowling vernacular, long after giving away actual turkeys stopped.

Back then, bowling three strikes in a row was extremely difficult to do, because they did not have the beautiful lanes we have now. Also, bowling pins were setup by hand and not always uniform, bowling balls were not well balanced, and people running the tournaments would often use tricks to make the pins more difficult to knock down.

Because it is more common to hit three strikes or more in a row today, new names have been developed. Six consecutive strikes is a Wild Turkey and nine consecutive strikes is a Golden Turkey.

Earliest Thanksgiving Celebrations

Scholars agree that the first Plymouth Thanksgiving, which lasted for three days, occurred in the fall of 1621 with 90 Native Americans and 50 white settlers in attendance. It was based on English harvest festivals. The Wampanoag men may have been trying to negotiate a peace agreement. They brought five deer to the feast, which probably also included cod, goose, dried corn, and fruit.

There is no historical record of turkey or pumpkin pie. The first feast was not repeated, so it was not the beginning of a tradition and the colonists did not call the day Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was a religious holiday and they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle. On such a religious day, the types of recreational activities the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians participated in during the 1621 harvest feast, such as dancing, singing secular songs, and playing games would not have been allowed. That feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the colonists minds.

Pilgrims, Colonists, and Puritans

The word pilgrim was never used by the actual people it describes. It is a myth that pilgrims wore only black and white clothing and had buckles on their hats, garments, and shoes.

The Church of England Separatists living in Plymouth during the 1600s were much more colorful than story books portray. Black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions and women typically dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, while men wore clothing in white, beige, black, earthy green, and brown. Buckles did not come into fashion until late in the seventeenth century.

Colonists (pilgrims and puritans) did not live in log cabins. The log cabin did not appear in America until late in the seventeenth century, when it was introduced by Germans and Swedes. Log cabins were virtually unknown in England at the time the Pilgrims arrived in America. Pilgrims lived in wood clapboard houses made from sawed lumber.

Pilgrims and Puritans were two different groups. The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and lived in Plymouth. The Puritans, arrived a decade later, settled in Boston, and came to America strictly in search of religious freedom. They did not welcome dissent.

Puritans considered the Pilgrims incurable utopians. While both shared the belief that the Church of England had become corrupt, only the Pilgrims believed it was beyond redemption. They therefore chose the path of Separatism. Puritans held out the hope the church would reform.

Puritans welcomed laughter and upper class dressed in bright colors, but lower classes dressed in dark clothes. The anti-liquor and anti-sex attitudes usually attributed to the Puritans are a nineteenth-century addition to the views of early settlers in New England.

Nov 28, 2014

Twelve Turkey Facts

Here are a few tidbits to digest along with your turkey leftovers. Turkeys have been roaming North and South America for over 10-million years.

Over short flights, a wild turkey can top out at about 55 miles per hour (89 km/h). Domestic turkeys cannot fly because they are too heavy.

The largest turkey on record weighed 86 pounds.

Turkeys (and many birds) ingest small stones that go into a part of their stomachs called the gizzard, which helps the turkey break down food. This process is necessary because turkeys, like all birds, don't have teeth.

Turkeys have two stomachs: the glandular stomach that softens the food with gastric juices and the gizzard that grinds it up for the intestines or the first stomach, if needed.

The feces of male turkeys are J-shaped, and also straighter and larger than a female's, which look more spiral shaped.

There is a festival honoring turkeys, the Eldon, Missouri Turkey Festival which is held each October. It includes a turkey egg toss, turkey calling seminars and a 5-K turkey trot.

Wild turkeys prefer to sleep in trees, because their eyesight is so poor.

The tops of male turkeys are not only colorful, but highly variable. Males normally have almost no feathers on their heads, but when it comes time to breed, the colors can change between red, white, and blue.

Male turkeys gobble, female turkeys do not gobble, they make a clicking noise.

Mature turkeys have about 3,500 feathers at maturity.

The red bumps on a turkey's head are called caruncles.

Dec 13, 2013

Holiday Wordology

As we are between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, thought I might add some words used often during the holidays, and their origins.

Mirth - Both mirth and merry come from an Old English word meaning “joy” or “pleasure.” These words are themselves derived from an older German root meaning “short-lasting.” Thus, something merry is short-lived—although the consequences may not be.

In the 17th century, the word “merry” could include decidedly earthier connotations, such as a merry-bout of sexual intercourse. Sometimes a merry-bout resulted in a “merry-begot,” an illegitimate child.

Merry - The word merry also gave us the merrythought, which we now call the wishbone. The custom of pulling apart the wishbone dates back at least to Roman times and may have evolved from the Etruscan practice of alectryomancy, the practice of divining the future using rooster clavicles. According to Roman legend, the Etruscans selected the wishbone because its “V” shape resembled a human groin, the repository of life. Thus, the wishbone was seen as an appropriate way to unravel life’s mysteries.

In the 17th century, it was sometimes thought that whoever ended up with the longer piece of the merrythought would marry first. Some believed the person with the longer piece would get whatever wish he chose. English settlers brought the practice with them to the New World, and we still pull the wishbone apart today.  The proper term for the bone we pull apart is “furcula.” It comes from the Latin furca, meaning “pitchfork.”

Fork - It is not particularly a holiday word, but used more often during the holidays. Before becoming the word for what was then a two-pronged utensil, the term was used in England to refer to a forked instrument used by torturers. Although the fork seems like an obvious tool, it was not used for eating until the eighth or ninth century, and then only by the nobility in parts of what is now the Middle East. Popular legend has it that Catherine dei Medici brought the fork to France from Italy when she married King Henry I of France in the 16th century. However, the use of the word to mean a table fork came a hundred years earlier.

Beer and Ale -  The word “beer,” stems from Latin bibere, meaning “to drink.” The Germanic word for beer was aluth, from which we get our English word “ale.” Ale also gave us the English word “bridal,” because in the Middle Ages, ale was a noun that meant a feast. A bride ale was literally a feast in honor of a marriage.

Sage -  The herb sage is associated with Thanksgiving, but historically, sage’s primary use has been medicinal. This is reflected in its botanical name, Salvia officinalis. In Latin, salvus meant “healthy,” a word that also gave us the English “safe.” Sage has been used to treat inflamed gums, excessive perspiration, memory loss, depression, sore throat, swollen sinuses, acne, toenail fungus, hot flashes, and painful menstruation, among others. Because sage is also used to combat diarrhea, gas, and bloating, it is the perfect herb for a holiday that often results in overindulgence.

Tofurky - This relatively new holiday word makes many cringe. It is a turkey substitute created in 2000 by Turtle Island Foods. Tofurky is made from tofu, wheat gluten, oil, and “natural flavors,” which include certain yeasts that lend Tofurky a “meaty” taste. Tofu is fermented soy bean curd valued for its high protein content, as well as its ability to absorb flavors from other foods. Tofu is probably best enjoyed without thinking of the origins of the word, literally “rotten beans,” which come from Chinese dou (“beans”) and fu (“rotten”).

Christmas - This word comes from the Old English words Cristes moesse, 'the mass or festival of Christ'. The first celebration took place in Rome about the middle of the fourth century. The exact date of the Nativity is not known, but even in pre-Christian times the period from December 25 to January 6, now known as "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was considered a special time of year. The abbreviation Xmas, thought as sacrilegious by some, is entirely appropriate. The letter X (chi) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ.

Reindeer - Did you know this word is actually redundant. Rein is Scandinavian for 'reindeer', so reindeer translates to 'reindeer deer'. It came to English from Old Norse hreindyri.

Mistletoe is thought to be based on a German word for bird excrement (mix) from the fact that the plant is propagated in it. Some think it is derived from another German word (mash) which refers to the stickiness of the berries. It is combined with an Old English word (toe) meaning 'twig'. This shrub usually grows on broad-leaved trees like apple, lime, and poplar.

Christmas Carol is a term which originally referred to a non-religious ring dance accompanied by singing. Eventually it came to mean a merry song with a tune that could be danced to. The Italian friars who lived with St. Francis of Assisi were the first to compose these songs in the early 1400s. Since the nineteenth century, carols have been sung in place of hymns in many churches on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Saint Nicholas was not only wealthy but modest, and he liked to help people in need without drawing attention to himself. Poor families would often find a gold piece or well-filled purse without knowing where it had come from. His American successor, Santa Claus, carried on the tradition.

Poinsettias have been a symbol of Christmas in the United States since the 1820s when it was first shipped to North America by Joel Poinsett, the American minister to Mexico.

Wassail - It comes from the Middle English waes haeil, which means 'be in good health' or 'be fortunate'. Wassailing was the Old English custom of toasting the holiday and each other's health. Wassail is also the name of the spiced apple beverage used in such toasting and has been drunk since around 1300.

Dec 1, 2013

Leftovers from Thanksgiving

For those who still have an appetite, here is a bit of brain stuffing for the day.

In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for Thanksgiving celebrations.
Each year, the average American eats between 16 - 18 pounds of turkey.
Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.
Although, Thanksgiving is widely considered an American holiday, it is also celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season.

More Fun Turkey Facts
The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey is as a sandwich, in stew, chili, soup, casserole, and as a burger.
Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
Turkeys have about 3,500 feathers at maturity.
Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clucking noise.
Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.
Turkeys have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks.
Turkeys have poor night vision.
It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound tom turkey.
A 16-week-old turkey is called a fryer. A five to seven month old turkey is called a young roaster.

Nov 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Terms

There was not always a choice of dark meat or white meat after carving the turkey. These terms have nothing to do with the color of the meat as they were euphemisms for the leg and breast of turkey and other fowl. In the Victorian times, the words “leg” and “breast” were considered fowl, so they awkwardly decided to call the leg “white meat” and the breast “black meat.”

Did you know Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the US. or that Abraham Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving? He was persuaded by Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb".

Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

Pilgrims did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America. In fact, the particular Pilgrim event that is often cited as the first Thanksgiving was not even the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving. They had several before at various times and none were celebrated annually. The days were merely a particular time when people had something significant to thank God for, so would set aside a day to do so.

Around the time the Pilgrims came to America in 1620, it was common in England and many parts of Europe to frequently set aside days for giving thanks to God. In the New World, where life was harsh in the beginning, there were numerous opportunities to hold such days of thanks, such as any time a particularly good crop would come in, when drought would end, when a particularly harsh winter was survived, when a group repelled an attack by Native Americans, when a supply ship arrived safely from Europe, etc. Seems like they had many reasons to party.

These celebrations remained fairly common up until the time when Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Most of these celebrations bore little resemblance to what we think of as Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims celebrations bore little resemblance to what is depicted now.

No one knows for sure who actually celebrated the first actual Thanksgiving in America. The most popular examples often referenced as the actual “firsts” include:

  • The day of thanksgiving celebrated in September 1565 by a group of Spaniards lead by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé, in Saint Augustine, Florida. Pedro invited the Timucua tribe to dine with them on that Thanksgiving.

  • The group led by Spanish explorer Juan de Onate in 1598 in San Elizario, Texas held a Thanksgiving festival after successfully crossing 350 miles of Mexican desert.

  • The thirty-eight settlers who landed on James River by Jamestown in December 1619. Their charter required that the day of landing be set aside as a day of thanksgiving both on that first date and every year after.

  • The Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving that took place sometime between September and October of 1621.

Thanksgiving Traditions Origin

The Pilgrim Thanksgiving that happened in the fall of 1621 is the most popular reference to the first Thanksgiving in the US. This is largely because of Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and one of the most influential women in American history.

She was particularly enamored with the Pilgrim event she had read about in a passage by William Bradford in 'Of Plymouth Plantation' as well as the particular Thanksgiving tradition which was somewhat common in New England at the time. She tirelessly campaigned for over 20 years to have Thanksgiving become a national holiday with a set date.

Through her highly circulated editorials, she was largely responsible for much of why we view the Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving how we do and was also largely responsible for many of the traditions we now tend to attribute to that Thanksgiving, even though there are actually only two brief passages that record what happened during the Thanksgiving celebration in 1621.

Things like the tradition of eating turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving were all popularized by her while it is unlikely that the Pilgrims ate any of those things.

Nov 16, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Next Thursday November 22 is Thanksgiving this year. Hope you have a great Holiday!

Another November Holiday


The day after Thanksgiving this year, November 23rd is National Day of Listening.

It is sponsored by oral history nonprofit StoryCorps. This year’s National Day of Listening honors teachers. The organization has asked everyone to participate by taking a few minutes to thank a teacher. Other ways to commemorate National Day of Listening is by recording interviews in veteran’s hospitals, senior centers, homeless shelters, and other community centers.

Potato Facts


One of the ingredients of almost all Thanksgiving and other holiday meals is the potato. The starchy, edible tuber was introduced to the world around 400 years ago from regions around the Andes. Originally they were grown almost 10,000 years ago in Peru and Bolivia and are now found growing in most countries around the world, although the Andes continues have major production.

Currently potatoes are the fourth largest food crop in the world and there are more than a thousand different types. They are versatile and can be enjoyed baked, boiled, or fried. They can be mashed, sliced, chopped, diced or eaten whole. They can be eaten cold or hot, raw or cooked. I will need some chips to hold me over until next Thursday and mashed potatoes with cheese and bacon. Mmm!
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Nov 18, 2011

Thanksgiving

Don't forget next week is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

PS - Here is a site for bacon wrapped turkey recipe.  LINK  Also, I read where some folks are beginning to add bacon and sausage to the stuffing for Turducken. Mmmm!

Nov 27, 2010

Thanksgiving

It is hard to find the actual 'first thanksgiving' in the US. Of course Texas, never one to miss an opportunity, claims to be first with the story of the first Thanksgiving feast celebrated in 1598 in El Paso, Texas by Don Juan de Oñate – 22 years before the English colonial Thanksgiving.

By early March 1598, Oñate's expedition of 500 people, including soldiers, colonists, wives and children and 7,000 head of livestock, was ready to cross the treacherous Chihuahuan Desert. Almost from the beginning of the 50-day march, nature challenged the Spaniards. First, seven consecutive days of rain made travel miserable. Then the hardship was reversed, and the travelers suffered greatly from the dry weather. On one occasion, a chance rain shower saved the parched colonists.

Finally, for the last five days of the march before reaching the Rio Grande, the expedition ran out of both food and water, forcing the men, women and children to seek roots and other scarce desert vegetation to eat. Both animals and humans almost went mad with thirst before the party reached water. Two horses drank until their stomachs burst, and two others drowned in the river in their haste to consume as much water as possible.

The Rio Grande was the salvation of the expedition, however. After recuperating for 10 days, Oñate ordered a day of thanksgiving for the survival of the expedition. Included in the event was a feast, supplied with game by the Spaniards and with fish by the natives of the region. A mass was said by the Franciscan missionaries traveling with the expedition. And finally, Oñate read La Toma -- the taking -- declaring the land drained by the Great River to be the possession of King Philip II of Spain.

Some historians call this one of the truly important dates in the history of the continent, marking the beginning of Spanish colonization in the American Southwest.

There's no doubt that today's Thanksgiving tradition is New England born and bred. It's not a single tradition, however, but a combination of traditions, according to a researcher for Plimoth Plantation Inc., which operates a model 17th century village at Plymouth, Mass., who says today's celebration is a cross between a British harvest festival and a special day of religious thanksgiving, both originally observed by pilgrims in New England.

In 1621, just months after their arrival from England, residents of Plymouth celebrated a harvest festival, which was indistinguishable from those observed throughout Britain at the time. It was a secular event with feasting and games. The only religious observance was the saying of grace before the meal.

Two years later, the governor of Plymouth colony called for a special day of religious thanksgiving for the end of a drought that plagued the colony. This was an extra day of prayer and religious observance. Special days of religious thanksgiving were called throughout the colonial period.

Connecticut is given credit for initially adopting an annual day of general thanksgiving. The first for which a proclamation exists was called for Sept. 18, 1639, although some may have been held earlier. Another on record was held in 1644, and from 1649 onward, these special days of general thanksgiving were held annually.

Massachusetts Bay Colony began annual observances in 1660.

Several other states also claim the first thanksgiving. Puritans who arrived to establish Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 observed a special day of prayer that is often called the 'first Thanksgiving'. Even earlier in Florida, a small colony of French Huguenots living near present-day Jacksonville noted a special thanksgiving prayer. The colony soon was wiped out by the Spanish.

Maine stakes its claim to the first Thanksgiving on the basis of a service held by colonists on August 9, 1607, to give thanks for a safe voyage.

Virginians are convinced their ancestors celebrated the first Thanksgiving when Jamestown settlers in 1610 held a service of thanksgiving for their survival of a harsh winter.

Nov 19, 2010

Turkey Facts

Here are some interesting Turkey tidbits as we approach Thanksgiving.

Turkeys can fly for short bursts at up to 55 mph. However, domestic turkeys are usually too fat to fly.

Turkey eggs are not usually sold for eating because farmers have learned that they make more raising turkeys for meat rather than eggs.

It's not the turkey that makes you sleepy. Although turkey contains a natural chemical called tryptophan, and  tryptophan is related to the production of serotonin, which helps us sleep. All meat has about the same amount of tryptophan. What really makes you sleepier after a Thanksgiving meal compared to other meals is eating too many carbohydrates, from potatoes to pies. Alcohol can contribute, too.

The wishbone, called a furcula, is the fusion of two collarbones at the sternum. It's where a turkey’s flying muscles hook up and is very elastic and great for flapping.

Oct 22, 2010

Black Friday 2010

That is the day after Thanksgiving and this year looks like a fun time for discounts. According to Accenture Consulting firm’s findings, 83% of shoppers plan to spend the same or less on holiday gifts compared to 2009. Only 13% of shoppers said they are willing to pay full price for specific gifts this year, while 40% said they will buy all or mostly discounted items. 87% said that they are only interested in purchasing items that are marked down at least 20%, and 25% said they will only purchase items with a discount of 50% or more.

Meanwhile, 41% of shoppers plan to buy at least half their holiday gifts online, and 43% said that they’re most motivated by free shipping offers. 25% believe that there are simply better discounts to be had online than in stores.