From our house to yours . . .
“The funny thing about Thanksgiving ,or any big meal, is that you spend 12 hours shopping for it then go home and cook,chop,braise and blanch. Then it’s gone in 20 minutes and everybody lies around sort of in a sugar coma and then it takes 4 hours to clean it up.” ~ Ted Allen, from The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
How about a little Thanksgiving history, including some similar feasts around the world . . .
Did you know?
- The cornucopia, or horn of plenty, one of the symbols of Thanksgiving, comes from ancient Greeks and Romans. The term (generally describing a horn-shaped basket filled with fruit, flowers and other goodies) comes from the Latin cornu copiae, literally “horn of plenty.” In Greek mythology, the cornucopia is an enchanted severed goat’s horn, created by Zeus to produce a never-ending supply of whatever the owner desires.
- In England, the September 23 Harvest Festival goes back thousands of years, during which plaited corn dolls were hung in the rafters. The pagans believed that the Spirit of the Corn resided in the first cut sheaf of corn. During the Harvest Festival, children take fruits and vegetables to churches and schools for distribution to the elderly and the needy.
- Thanksgiving is a part of U.S. military history, including days of Thanksgiving during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
- In Germany, Erntedankfest is officially celebrated in October, but can be celebrated anytime during the fall. Following the Erntedankfest celebration, the unused food is distributed to the needy.
- Pumpkin pie has been around for hundred of years, possibly dating back to the 1500s during which a dessert was made by stewing pumpkins and wrapping it in pastry. During the 17th century, recipes for pumpkin pie could be found in English cookbooks, but it wasn’t until about the 19th century that pumpkin pie similar to what we know today became a Thanksgiving staple. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem called the pumpkin in 1850: “What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?” Lydia Maria Child’s poem (later a song) “Over the River and Through the Woods” (1844), includes the following verses:
- Over the river, and through the wood—
- When Grandmother sees us come,
- She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
- bring a pie for everyone.”
- Over the river, and through the wood—
- now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
- Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
- Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
- One of the biggest and most important holidays in Korea is Chuseok, a three-day harvest festival that is s celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. In the morning, foods prepared with the year’s fresh harvest are set out to give thanks to ancestors through Charye (ancestor memorial service). After Charye, families visit their ancestors’ graves and engage in Beolcho, a ritual of clearing the weeds that may have grown up over the burial mound.
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 and has been held every year since, except for 1942-44 because of WWII. The first major balloon featured in the parade was Felix the Cat, in 1927. Floats were introduced in 1971. Each parade has ended with the appearance of Santa Claus.
Seriously though, I hope the day finds you warm (or cool, depending upon your hemisphere), safe, and with family or friends, that your table has enough to fill your hunger, your glass has enough to slate your thirst, and your body feels the comfort of close companionship. And tonight, when everyone has gone, and the table has been cleared, may you spare a thought for those out there who find clean water a luxury, warm food a bounty, and a safe pillow something found only in dreams.
I miss you, Dad.
More later. Peace.
Music by John Denver, “The Wings that Fly us Home.” (yes, it’s blatantly sentimental)
Before the adults we call our children arrive with their children in tow
we take our morning walk down the lane of oaks and hemlocks, mist
a smell of rain by nightfall—underfoot,
the crunch of leathery leaves released by yesterday’s big wind.
You’re ahead of me, striding into the arch of oaks that opens onto the fields
and stone walls of the road—
as a V of geese honk a path overhead, and you stop—
in an instant, without thought, raising your arms toward sky, your hands
flapping from the wrists,
and I can read in the echo your body makes of these wild geese going
where they must,
such joy, such wordless unity and delight, you are once again the child
who knows by instinct, by birthright,
just to be is a blessing. In a fictional present, I write the moment down.
You embodied it.
~ Margaret Gibson