I was really surprised when I moved to Louisiana and found out that Memorial Day was a Yankee Holiday. The state of Mississippi tends to ignore it completely. The first national Thanksgiving day came via proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War in 1863. Also, the Pilgrims were New Englanders so it seems to me if ever there were a “Yankee” holiday, it would be Thanksgiving.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
This would have appalled his predecessor Thomas Jefferson who spoke these words in his 1805 inaugural address.
In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the power of the General Government. I have, therefore, undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.
One of my favorite memories surrounding Thanksgiving was the report card that came home with Doctor Daughter in Kindergarten. It seems I had neglected my duties of describing the mythical pilgrim/native american feastday that now pervades our celebration. The teacher was confused about Jean’s thoughts on Thanksgiving. The kids were asked to describe what Thanksgiving means and my darling little 5 year old talked about our end of November trip to the cabin up in Estes Park and that we always play card games and hope for snow so we can go skiing!!! We never had TV there so there was even a day of peace and quiet from football games. We usually got snowed in too so there was just a lot of game playing and cooking while looking down the mountain to the valley below.
In the 19th century, the modern Thanksgiving holiday started to take shape. In 1846, Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of a magazine called Godley’s Lady’s Book, campaigned for an annual national thanksgiving holiday after a passage about the harvest gathering of 1621 was discovered and incorrectly labeled as the first Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared two national Thanksgivings; one in August to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg and the other in November to give thanks for “general blessings.”
So, like many other things that we do in modern America, the truth about the holiday is quite different. It seems that the Victorians and post World War 2 Americans defined the traditions that we think about as being with us much longer. Here’s a take on thanksgiving by Robert Jensen who reminds us how we’ve treated Native Americans since that first shared harvest.
One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.
In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.
Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits — which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.
That the world’s great powers achieved “greatness” through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable.
I find it odd that Jensen did not take the time to read the Lincoln proclamation with its call for prayer “with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience”. SO much, for American exceptionalism. Isn’t it interesting to look at things beyond the propaganda of those who benefit from pushing the consumerist aspects of national holidays and warping them into something unintended?
Let’s take a look at a few more things today.
The head of the Church of England is the Queen Elizabeth II. This makes this crisis in the COE created by the laity of the church all the odder. Bishops and clerics approved the change.
In a sign of deepening crisis in the Church of England after it rejected the appointment of women as bishops, its spiritual leader said Wednesday that the church had “undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility” and had a “lot of explaining to do” to people who found its deliberations opaque.
The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, was speaking after an emergency meeting of bishops called to debate Tuesday’s narrow balloting by its General Synod rejecting the ordination of women as bishops, even though female priests account for one-third of the Church of England’s clergy members.
Female priests hold senior positions like canon and archdeacon, and some had been hoping to secure appointments as bishops by 2014 if the change had been approved.
The vote represented a direct rebuff to Archbishop Williams’s reformist efforts during his 10 years as head of the church and a huge setback to a campaign for change that has been debated intensely and often bitterly for the past decade.
More than 70 percent of the 446 synod votes on Tuesday were in favor of opening the church’s episcopacy to women. But the synod’s voting procedures require a two-thirds majority in each of its three “houses”: bishops, clergy and laity. The bishops approved the change by 44 to 3, and the clergy by 148 to 45. The vote among the laity, though, was 132 to 74, six votes fewer than the two-thirds needed.
The Church of England is the so-called established church, meaning that it is recognized by law as representing the official religion, enjoys special privileges and is supported by the civil authorities.
Whacky old Pat Robertson is trying to explain how he got his conversation with gawd so terribly wrong a few weeks ago. How many gullible people can dance on the head of a pin?
Today, responding to a question from a viewer who wondered why her business is struggling since she thought God told her it would be successful, Robertson admitted that he sometimes misses God’s message. “So many of us miss God, I won’t get into great detail about elections but I sure did miss it, I thought I heard from God, I thought I had heard clearly from God, what happened?” Robertson replied, “You ask God, how did I miss it? Well, we all do and I have a lot of practice.”
SOS Hillary Clinton and the Egyptian foreign minister brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.
Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state
“The US welcomes the agreement today for a ceasefire in Gaza – for it to hold the rocket attacks must end and a broader calm must return. The people of this region deserve the chance to live free of fear and violence.”
Under intense Egyptian and American pressure, Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas halted eight days of bloody conflict on Wednesday, averting a full-scale Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip without resolving the underlying disputes.
With Israeli forces still massed on the Gaza border, a tentative calm descended after the announcement of the agreement. The success of the truce will be an early test of how Egypt’s new Islamist government might influence the most intractable conflict in the Middle East.
The United States, Israel and Hamas all praised Egypt’s role in brokering the cease-fire as the antagonists pulled back from violence that had killed more than 150 Palestinians and five Israelis over the past week. The deal called for a 24-hour cooling-off period to be followed by talks aimed at resolving at least some of the longstanding grievances between the two sides.
Let’s all enjoy the things and people we have in our lives today but not forget that perversity still exists in the world.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Happy Thanksgiving!! I’m going to devote this Thursday post to Thanksgiving-oriented material. Feel free to talk about whatever you want in the comments.
Here’s a little background on the origins of the Thanksgiving feast from Wikipedia:
Thanksgiving in North America had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. At the time, Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season. When Europeans first arrived to the Americas, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest….
In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. There is also evidence for an earlier celebration on the continent by Spanish explorers in Texas at San Elizario in 1598, as well as thanksgiving feasts in the Virginia Colony. The initial thanksgiving observance at Virginia in 1619 was prompted by the colonists’ leaders on the anniversary of the settlement. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. In later years, the tradition was continued by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in 1623. While initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed half of the 102 colonists, the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the Pilgrims by providing seeds and teaching them to fish. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival like this did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s
I don’t really know how accurate that is. The Christian Science monitor has listed five myths about Thanksgiving that they believe will surprise people. Number three on the list was news to me:
3. Pilgrims dressed in all black and wore buckles
Not so fast. This modern-day likeness of the first American Pilgrims was conjured sometime in the 19th century, when the popular image of Pilgrims was formed – but it’s mostly false. The garb of the Pilgrims was actually brightly colored and buckle-free.
Pilgrim women normally dressed in red, earth green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, and the men wore white, beige, black, earth green, and brown clothing. Buckles were not commonly worn until much later in the 17th century, and black and white clothing was typically only worn on Sundays and when observing formal occasions.
So why give the Pilgrims this now-iconic appearance?
Former Plimoth (yep, we double-checked the spelling) Plantation historian James W. Baker writes that, in the 19th century, buckles were assigned to Pilgrims because they served as an emblem of quaintness, which is the same reason illustrators gave Santa Claus buckles. Also associated with Pilgrims – the blunderbuss, a muzzle-loading firearm with a stout caliber barrel – was so designated because of its old-fashioned, unthreatening look. But the Pilgrims probably didn’t use that either.
According to The Boston Globe the Thanksgiving travel rush was going full tilt yesterday.
Undeterred by costlier gas and airfare, millions of Americans set out Wednesday to see friends and family in what is expected to be the nation’s busiest Thanksgiving weekend since the financial meltdown more than three years ago….
About 42.5 million people are expected to hit the road or take to the skies for Thanksgiving this year, according to travel tracker AAA. That’s the highest number since the start of the recession at the end of 2007.
Heavy rain slowed down early travelers along the East Coast. Snow across parts of New England and upstate New York made for treacherous driving and thousands of power outages. And a mudslide covered train tracks in the Pacific Northwest. But most of the country is expected to have clear weather Thursday.
Quite frankly, some of my happiest Thanksgiving days have been spent alone. I find holidays somewhat stressful, and besides I have kind of a crazy family. This year I’m going to spend the day with my brother’s family at the home of some of their friends. I’m pretty sure everyone will be nice, but if not I can always excuse myself early. Here’s an article from Time for people with big crazy families like mine: 5 Ways to Keep Your Family From Ruining Thanksgiving. Here’s my favorite (Number 5):
The key to maintaining your calm is to send yourself the right mental messages. That means practicing mindful awareness, loving kindness and compassionate self-talk. Sound like new age psychobabble? The truth is, you’re already sending yourself messages all the time. “You’re telling yourself throughout the day what you’re bothered by and disappointed in….It’s worse at holiday time when your expectation of what you thought your life was going to look like is most acute.”
I found two writers (probably both conservatives) who claimed that the lesson of the first Thanksgiving is that capitalism trumps socialism.
When they first started the colony, their overseas investors forced them to share all their property together. According to Bradford, “all profits and benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be shared, and that “all such persons as are of this colony are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.”
In other words, put into the common stock all you can, and take out only what you need. “To each according to his need; from each according to his ability.” Sound familiar?
Communism may be okay for a small group like a family or a Boy Scout patrol, but it doesn’t scale very well for larger groups.
According to Arneson “communism” made the pilgrims lazy and selfish so William Bradford, the governor of Plimouth, decided to try “free market capitalism.”
Bradford and the colony elders divided up the property among the families. Whatever produce a family did not use for themselves, they were free to trade away with others for something else they wanted.
It was an astonishing success — the harvests of 1623 and beyond provided a bounty of excess food, not just for a single Thanksgiving meal as in the previous two years, but enough to last the winter….
Once the creative powers of individual rewards were unleashed, where every person was allowed to keep the fruits of his own labor for his own family or for trade, everything was different.
The Plymouth colonists were socialists before socialism was cool. They entered into a contract with one another and a finance company called Merchant Adventurers to create an egalitarian commune in which their wealth, food in particular, would be collectively stored and redistributed equally among members. This was the forebear of the modern-day American counterculture collectivist commune or even Israel’s more mainstream kibbutz, which survive on government subsidies. Equality is put before freedom or even productivity.
And so on…with even more right-wing propaganda included than in the article by Arneberg. I guess the first Thanksgiving was about sharing, but a couple of years later the pilgrims learned that greed is good. Incidentally, the author’s bio at the end of the article says the Wolf is Barack Obama’s cousin. Is this meme the latest White House effort to push austerity?
Since we were talking about mac and cheese on Thanksgiving last night, I thought I’d share my favorite alternative Thanksgiving story. For many years, humorist Calvin Trillin has led a campaign to change the official Thanksgiving dish from turkey to spaghetti carbonara. I located Trillin’s piece about it on-line, and since it was copied from Trillin’s book Third Helpings, I figured it would be OK for me to copy it too.
I have been campaigning to have the national Thanksgiving dish changed from turkey to spaghetti carbonara.
It does not take much historical research to uncover the fact that nobody knows if the Pilgrims really ate turkey at the first Thanksgiving dinner. The only thing we know for sure about what the Pilgrims ate is that it couldn’t have tasted very good. Even today, well brought-up English girls are taught by their mothers to boil all veggies for at least a month and a half, just in case one of the dinner guests turns up without his teeth… (It is certainly unfair to say that the English lack both a cuisine and a sense of humor: their cooking is a joke in itself.)
It would also not require much digging to discover that Christopher Columbus, the man who may have brought linguine with clam sauce to this continent, was from Genoa, and obviously would have sooner acknowledged that the world was shaped like an isosceles triangle than to have eaten the sort of things that the English Puritans ate. Righting an ancient wrong against Columbus, a great man who certainly did not come all this way only to have a city in Ohio named after him, would be a serious historical contribution. Also, I happen to love spaghetti carbonara.
[In our family]…Thanksgiving has often been celebrated away from home. It was at other people’s Thanksgiving tables that I first began to articulate my spaghetti carbonara campaign–although, since we were usually served turkey, I naturally did not mention that the campaign had been inspired partly by my belief that turkey is basically something college dormitories use to punish students for hanging around on Sunday… I reminded everyone how refreshing it would be to hear sports announcers call some annual tussle the Spaghetti Carbonara Day Classic.
I even had a ready answer to the occasional turkey fancier at those meals who insist that spaghetti carbonara was almost certainly not what our forebears ate at the first Thanksgiving dinner. As it happens, one of the things I give thanks for every year is that those people in the Plymouth Colony were not my forebears. Who wants forebears who put people in the stocks for playing the harpsichord on the Sabbath or having an innocent little game of pinch and giggle?
Finally there came a year when nobody invited us to Thanksgiving dinner. Alice’s theory was that the word had got around town that I always made a pest out of myself berating the hostess for serving turkey instead of spaghetti carbonara…
However it came about, I was delighted at the opportunity we had been given to practice what I had been preaching–to sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner of spaghetti carbonara.
Naturally, the entire family went over to Rafetto’s pasta store on Houston Street to see the spaghetti cut. I got the cheese at Joe’s dairy, on Sullivan, a place that would have made Columbus feel right at home–there are plenty of Genoese on Sullivan; no Pilgrims–and then headed for the pork store on Carmine Street for the bacon and ham. Alice made the spaghetti carbonara. It was perfection. I love spaghetti carbonara. Then I began to tell the children the story of the first Thanksgiving:
In England, along time ago, there were people called Pilgrims who were very strict about making everyone observe the Sabbath and cooked food without any flavor and that sort of thing, and they decided to go to America, where they could enjoy Freedom to Nag. The other people in England said, “Glad to see the back of them.” In America, the Pilgrims tried farming, but they couldn’t get much done because they were always putting their best farmers in the stocks for crimes like Suspicion of Cheerfulness. The Indians took pity on the Pilgrims and helped them with their farming, even though the Indians thought that the Pilgrims were about as much fun as teenage circumcision. The Pilgrims were so grateful that at the end of their first year in America they invited the Indians over for a Thanksgiving meal. The Indians, having had some experience with Pilgrim cuisine during the year, took the precaution of taking along one dish of their own. They brought a dish that their ancestors had learned from none other than Christopher Columbus, who was known to the Indians as “the big Italian fellow.” The dish was spaghetti carbonara–made with pancetta bacon and fontina and the best imported prosciutto. The Pilgrims hated it. They said it was “heretically tasty” and “the work of the devil” and “the sort of thing foreigners eat.” The Indians were so disgusted that on the way back to their village after dinner one of them made a remark about the Pilgrims that was repeated down through the years and unfortunately caused confusion among historians about the first Thanksgiving meal. He said,
“What a bunch of turkeys!”
1 pound spaghetti Ask the
1/2 pound pancetta (sliced 1/4 “ thick at the deli, and cut into lardons)
4 large eggs (locally raised and cage-free if possible)
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan reggiano to pass at the table
Put salted water on the boil for the pasta, grate the romano cheese and set aside, finely mince the fresh parsley and reserve.
In a very large skillet, saute the pancetta lardons in the olive oil over medium heat until the bacon has rendered much of its fat. You don’t want to cook the pancetta to the point of being crisp, it is better with a little fatty “chew” still left in it. Just before the pancetta is done, add the minced garlic to the pan and allow to cook until the garlic is golden brown. Set the pan aside to cool. (Allowing the pan to cool some at this point is important, because if the pan is too hot when you add the eggs later, they will immediately scramble, and not gently cook into the creamy sauce that is your ultimate goal.
Break the eggs into a medium sized bowl and whisk them till smooth. Add the grated cheese to the eggs and keep handy.
Cook the pasta to the maker’s instructions for “al dente”, and as soon as it is done, quickly strain it and toss it into the skillet with the pancetta, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water to thin your sauce later if needed. Add the cheese and egg mixture to the pasta along with the parsley, and toss to coat. The heat from the pasta will gently cook the eggs, and melt the cheese into a luxuriously rich and smooth sauce. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it.
To serve, place the pasta into warmed bowls, top liberally with freshly ground black pepper, and sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan.
I hope everyone has a wonderful day and lots to be grateful for!
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful day today.
Even though the news has been discouraging for a long time now, we probably all have something to be grateful for. I know I do. I’m going to share some of what I’m grateful for today, and I hope everyone who comes around to to our “little blog that could” today will do likewise.
First, I’m very grateful today for all of you who have helped us get up and running these past few weeks!
Most of all, I’m grateful for my family. Although we lost my dad in March, we are fortunate to still have my mom with us. I’m grateful to have close relationships with my two brothers and two sisters. I’m grateful for my nieces and nephews and my grand-nephew and grand-niece. Children are our future, and I’m fortunate to have a chance to help make it better for them.
I’m grateful to have had the chance to pursue my education in the second half of in life. I’m grateful for my mother-in-law, who was there for me when I needed a place to live after my husband and I split up. I cared for her for 18 years, and I’m very grateful to have had her in my life, and all that I learned from her. Because she gave me a place to live, I was able to return to college and eventually earn a PhD in psychology. I’m also grateful for the state and federal government help I received during the time I was in school.
I’m grateful that I’ve been sober since May, 1982. If it weren’t for my sobriety, I wouldn’t have any of the other things I’ve mentioned. I was very fortunate to be able to turn my life around beginning 28 years ago.
As you know, I’m not that happy with how things are going for our country right now. I think our political establishment is beyond corrupt and that corrupt corporations are ruining our country and perhaps the world. I’m so thankful for the internet–without the ability to communicate with other people and share my anger at our political system, I don’t know how I would have survived. So I’m very grateful to many bloggers and commenters who have helped me know that I’m not alone in my anger and frustration.
Here are a few events in today’s news that I’m grateful for:
DeLay was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, court bailiff Gilbert Soto said. He was accused of funneling $190,000 to help elect Republicans to the state House and Senate in 2002.
At the outset of the trial, DeLay predicted the jury would clear him, and he remained unrepentant after learning the verdict..
“This is an abuse of power. It’s a miscarriage of justice,” DeLay told reporters. “I still maintain that I am innocent, that the criminalization of politics undermines our very system, and I’m very disappointed in the outcome. But you know, it is what it is, and we will carry on and maybe we can get it before people who understand the law.”
More like this, please.
A new study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that a pill, known as Truvada, may be able to prevent HIV infection for gay and bisexual men. Host Allison Keyes talks with Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the Centers for Disease Control and Adolph Falcon of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health about the drug and what it could mean for communities of color which are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS in the US
You can listen to the interview at the link.
The wild tiger population is less than 4 percent of what it was a century ago, and leaders in 13 nations are taking a stand against the poaching and habitat destruction that have decimated the majestic predators’ numbers….
With the conclusion of a high-profile summit, attracting guests as notable as actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments and conservation groups pledged $327 million with the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022….
Poaching, illegal trade and habitat destruction have forced the animal to the brink of extinction, according to the Global Tiger Initiative, which estimates that wild tigers exist today in less than 7 percent of their historic range.
“I am confident that we will look back on this day as a turning point in the effort to save one of the world’s best-loved animals,” World Wildlife Fund Director Jim Leape said.
The St. Petersburg, Russia, summit featured leaders from all 13 countries where tigers still live in the wild: Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
As with past document dumps by Wikileaks, U.S. officials expect that major international news outlets have been provided the documents in advance and that their news stories about what the documents contain will be published around the same time that the website reveals its cache of documents.
The White House and State Department are concerned because the documents may contain negative remarks made by U.S. diplomats about corrupt foreign leaders.
Army Pvt. Bradley Manning was arrested in June and charged with leaking a classified video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed several civilians. There has been speculation that Manning also may have been the source for the Iraq and Afghanistan military intelligence reports released by Wikileaks.
He also may be the source of the State Department cables, because prior to his arrest Manning boasted in e-mails to a former hacker that he had passed along thousands of diplomatic cables to Wikileaks.
I’m sorry that some people in the government will suffer embarrassment, but the best disinfectant is sunshine.
U.S. prosecutors Wednesday arrested an employee of an “expert networking firm” on charges that he promoted the firm’s services by arranging for corporate executives to leak inside information to hedge funds.
According to a complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors claimed that Don Ching Trang Chu, also known as Don Chu, who worked at California-based Primary Global Research, had arranged for hedge funds to get tips on companies including Atheros Communications, Broadcom Corp and Sierra Wireless.
The arrest comes amid a wide-ranging probe by U.S. authorities into potential insider trading at hedge funds, mutual funds and expert networks.
Great. Now let’s hope he rolls on the higher ups and the feds bust them too.
Federal authorities, intensifying an insider-trading investigation, are demanding trading and other information from some of the nation’s most powerful investment firms.
Hedge-fund giants SAC Capital Advisors and Citadel LLC, big mutual-fund company Janus Capital Group Inc. and Wellington Management Co., one of the nation’s biggest institutional-investment firms, have received subpoenas from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office seeking trading, communications and other data as part of a broad criminal investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also recently questioned an account manager at Primary Global Research LLC, a California company that provides “expert-network” services to hedge funds and mutual funds, people familiar with the matter say.
Such expert-network firms set up meetings and arrange calls between traders seeking an investing edge and current and former managers from hundreds of companies. The FBI is seeking information about a Primary Global consultant and his hedge-fund clients, these people say.
What are you grateful for today? Feel free to share your news links as always, and have a terrific Thanksgiving Day!!!!