Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Library showcase: Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. It’s a time when we celebrate family, friends, and, naturally, food! What could be more American than that? 

At the first Thanksgiving in 1621, the settlers of Plymouth Colony celebrated their first successful harvest in the New World with a feast that lasted for three days. Alongside their Native American neighbors, the Pilgrims ate roast goose, duck, venison, and crops from their recent harvest, including beans, squash, and corn.

Annual Thanksgiving celebrations became popular in the United States during the early nineteenth century, and over the years we have added many of the Thanksgiving traditions that we know today, like eating turkey, football games, and the Macy’s Day Parade. In 1863 Thanksgiving gained an official date (the last Thursday in November) and was proclaimed a day of giving thanks by Abraham Lincoln. Almost eighty years later in 1941, Congress formally established Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

You can find much more information on the early history of this American tradition in books such as A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims & the Myth of the First Thanksgiving by Godfrey Hodgson and The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz.

Curious about what it was like to be a Pilgrim in 1621? Check out Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick, Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World by Nick Bunker, or William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim by Gary D. Schmidt.

The Pilgrims weren’t alone at the 1621 Thanksgiving celebration, and today November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month. Learn more about the very first Americans in Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture, and Values through Storytelling by Joseph Burchac, In the Hands of the Great Spirit by Jake Page, and American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings by famous Native American author and activist, Zitkala-Ša.

Every year millions of Americans look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, and each of us has memories of our favorite part of the meal, whether it’s turkey and gravy, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, or a dish unique to your own family. If you’re looking for a new recipe to try this Thanksgiving (or you just enjoy drooling over gorgeous pictures of food), you’ll definitely want to check out some of the cookbooks at the library. You'll find tons of delicious ideas in Return to Sunday Dinner by Russell Cronkhite, The Glory of Southern Cooking by James Villas, Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons by Pat Crocker, and many more!