Wednesday, November 21, 2012
This time of year many of us think about what we are thankful for in our lives. I am thankful for good friends and family, and banana cream pie! I am also thankful for the opportunity to continue to research the history of Scipio Center and Cayuga County, and share what I learn in this blog. Most of all I am thankful to have a working internet connection - and high speed, at that!
Though many competing claims exist, the most familiar story of Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in present-day Massachusetts, in 1621. More than 200 years later, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving, and Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941. In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative Thanksgiving stamp. Designed by the artist Margaret Cusack in a style resembling traditional folk-art needlework, it depicted a cornucopia overflowing with fruits and vegetables, under the phrase "We Give Thanks."
In a survey conducted by the National Turkey Federation, nearly 88 percent of Americans said they eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Fossil evidence shows that turkeys roamed the Americas 10 million years ago! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America, with a planned production total of 46.5 million in 2011. Six states account for nearly two-thirds of the 248 million turkeys that will be raised in the U.S. this year: Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indiana.
In 1621, the only two items that historians know for sure were on the menu are venison and wild fowl, which are mentioned in primary sources. The Plymouth Pilgrims dined with the Wampanoag Indians. And the pilgrims didn’t use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.