Today is Thursday November the 27th – Thanksgiving Day and we are back on the Atlantic enroute to the Bahamas. There are a lot of Americans on the ship so there has been a lot of talk about Thanksgiving. I have never really understood what Thanksgiving is all about so thanks to the daily bulletin put out by Oceania I now understand:
Thanksgiving is said to originate from a mix of European and Native traditions where festivals were held to give thanks for a good harvest and for workers to rejoice together after much hard labour. It’s celebration is now an annual tradition in many parts of the world, ranging from the lower key Harvest Festivals in the churches in England to the popular Thanksgiving celebrations marked in Canada and Grenada in October, in Liberia on the first Thursday of November and in both the United States of America and in Leiden, Netherlands on the fourth Thursday in November.
It was back in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln first proclaimed that a national day of thanksgiving should be celebrated in the United States. Unlike other festivals and celebrations of red, white and blue, the traditional autumn colours of gold, orange and brown are used to represent fall.
The modern American Thanksgiving holiday traces its origins from a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts where the settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. The feast is now represented by the popular Thanksgiving dinner, traditionally featuring turkey as its centrepiece, so renowned that the National Turkey Federation has presented the President with a live turkey and two dressed turkeys as part of a ceremony held every year since 1947.
In 1987 Ronald Reagan declared the live turkey should be “pardoned” so it could live out the rest of its days on a nearby farm. Subsequent Presidents have continued this developing tradition. It is said that Reagan adopted the idea from a similar event hosted by Harry Truman which he took from an anecdote of Abraham Lincoln, pardoning his son’s pet turkey.
Popular sports fixtures and lavish parades now run alongside traditional family gatherings as the fourth Thursday in November stretches into a four day weekend. The world famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been held annually in New York since 1924 and features floats with scenes from Broadway plays, balloons of cartoon characters and high school marching bands. The float that traditionally ends the parade is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the commercial Christmas season. Other parades are held the length and breadth of the US, including one of the largest to be found in Detroit, where the city Mayor presents Santa Claus with a key to the city.
We decided to partake in the Thanksgiving menu offered in Jacques the French restaurant on the boat : )