Thanksgiving in the U.S. brought together families from near and far to celebrate a day of turkey, football, parades and possibly, this year, shopping. It’s one of the major American holidays laden with traditions and sometimes misconceptions about its origins.
The holiday is mythologized as beginning in 1621 when the Pilgrims invited the native Wampanoag Indians to their colony to celebrate the first harvest with turkey and pumpkin pie.
Close, but no cigar, according to historians who say they have no evidence of such a feast although one historical description says a dinner was shared of venison with no pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes in sight.
As for the Pilgrims coming to America to preserve religious freedom, again, not really. The Pilgrims fled England for Holland earlier where they enjoyed religious freedom. They went to America for economic reasons and to reserve their english heritage, historians say.
While the Pilgrims definitely held a 1623 feast, it was earlier in the year. Later, many American colonies held similar celebrations, but on various days. George Washington declared Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as a Thanksgiving day, but it was for that year only and had nothing to do with the Pilgrims.
Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential women’s magazine editor from 1837 to 1877 read about the Pilgrims 1621 celebration and started publishing turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie recipes. She started lobbying for a national holiday every year after 1846 and lobbied President Abraham Lincoln to turn the day into a national holiday.
Lincoln set Thanksgiving as national holiday in 1863, setting aside the fourth Thursday in November for the celebration. President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday in November to help the economy by providing an additional week of Christmas shopping.
Another Thanksgiving myth concerns the tradition of a presidential aren being granted to one symbolic turkey. Some say it dated to the Civil War when Lincoln’s son Tad, 10, begged to spare a bird’s life.
Actually, the tradition is far more recent in origins. President Harry Truman pardoned presidential turkeys starting in 1947. It became institutionalized when President George H. W. Bush pardoned the 1989 presidential turkey.
Speaking of myths, one that persists is that turkey contains an excess of tryptophan, a key amino acid thought to make people sleepy. Sorry, nope, turkey contains as much tryptophan as many other foods including chicken, so if someone is getting sleepy it’s likely due to too much food, eggnog or other factors.
And today, Americans will do the turkey trot and enjoy a day of, perhaps, rest with families and friends or wherever the good times roll.
KPBS last year provided the following factoids:
– The American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey found the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving meal for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year.
– Don’t blame the turkey for the slight uptick. The AFBF says the typical 16-pound turkey will cost $21.65. That’s an 11-cent decrease from last year.
– In fact, cranberries, stuffing and pie shells are down in price. The slight rise in total meal cost can be blamed on higher prices for sweet potatoes, milk and whipping cream.
– Since the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, most Americans have regarded the following day as the “official” start of the holiday shopping season.
– Struggling to boost sales in the wake of the Great Recession, many retailers began opening on Thanksgiving Day. But some customers prefer shopping at stores that allow workers to stay home on the holiday.
– So there’s a split. Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sears and Target — even Macy’s — are opening on Thanksgiving. But Costco, Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel and many others will be closed.
– The National Retail Federation predicts a 4.1 percent increase in holiday sales.
Escondido alternatives for Thanksgiving dine-ins and take-outs
Happy Thanksgiving in Escondido. Always. Here are a few local eating entities providing dine-in or take-out alternatives for the big turkey trot courtesy of the Visit Escondido tourism agency.
EscoGelato — Thanksgiving Gelato Cake. Pumpkin cake, layered with salted caramel gelato, pumpkin gelato, and topped with candied pecans and caramel drizzle. Small $27, Large $38. *Order by Tuesday, Nov. 25 for pick-up on Nov. 26 (closed on Thanksgiving Day). (760) 745-6500.
Stone Company Store Escondido — 11am – 11pm. Wednesday, Nov 26: Prime pours for a prime holiday and do some early holiday shopping. (The Store and Bistro are closed on Thanksgiving Day). (760) 294-7866.
Intertwined Bistro & Wine Bar — In addition to its regular menu, Chef Boyd’s special Thanksgiving Eve menu will include: Sweet corn chowder, bacon wrapped meatloaf, with garlic mash and broccolini and fresh baked cinnamon sugar dusted donuts and hot chocolate. Open On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27. (760) 432-9839.
Vintana Wine + Dine Thanksgiving Feast: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. (760) 745-7777.
Canyon Grille at Welk Resort – Brunch 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (760) 749-3253.
Cuscatlan Salvadorian Cuisine (& pizza): 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (760) 291-1225.
Swami’s Cafe: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. – regular menu. (760) 735-3333.
A Delight of France Bakery & Bistro: 8 a.m. to noon, regular menu. Don’t want to cook dinner? Call DOF by Nov 24th to order your whole Thanksgiving dinner for take out. Serves 12-15; $175; (760) 746-2644
La Farfalla Cafe – Gluten-Free Thanksgiving. 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Featuring all your holiday favorites-Free Range Organic Turkey, Bread Stuffing or Sausage Cornbread Stuffing, Yams, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Seasonal Vegetable, Cranberry Sauce, Rolls, and your choice of dessert-Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Chocolate Zucchini Cupcake or Vanilla Almond Cupcake. Adults $25, children under 11-$10. Children under three eat free. Reservations Required (760) 741-0835.
The Brigantine will be closed on Thanksgiving, but open for lunch and their regular dinner and happy hours the rest of the week. Also open for a great family brunch before everyone leaves town on Sunday, Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It will be the last weekend of the Annual Gift Card promotion- Buy $100, Get $25 free. (760) 743-4718.
Closed on Thanksgiving Day:
California Avocado Grill
Vinz Wine Bar
Plan 9 Alehouse
The Cheesecake Factory
Cocina Del Charro
Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens