Sunday, November 29

The Truth About Thanksgiving

Impeteus for the date of American Thanksgiving
The Dallas Confederate Memorial in downtown Dallas
But who, exactly, is "Old Tice?"
Rantwick, full of patriotic enthusiasm, pointed out that Canadian Thanksgiving occurs in October, round about Columbus Day. I admire such spunk, just as I admire the Baylor University football coach each year when he talks about making things tough for the University of Texas. However, Rantwick needs to understand that the colorful HISTORY of Thanksgiving could easily have led to it being celebrated in November even in his neighborhood. "Eh?," you ask.
Here's the TRUE story. Many Canadians believe that it relates to native harvest festivals, or to Frobisher. In reality, in Canada, it dates back to 1918 and didn't become official until 1957. Before 1918, Thanksgiving in Canada wandered around on the calendar. One could claim that the first official Canadian Thanksgiving occurred in April, 1872. However, after the Great War, until 1931, it was celebrated, IN CANADA, in November. Specifically, it was celebrated on Armistice Day (now renamed Remembrance Day). Earlier, the Canadian Thanksgiving tradition was influenced by American loyalists who fled the US during the Revolution. That's where the turkey & stuff came from. It DID tend to occur earlier in Canada than in the US, due to it getting really cold earlier up there. Still, Canadian Thanksgiving might easily occur on November 11, with poppies as a centerpiece for the table.

In the US, the first Thanksgiving is commonly believed to involve the Pilgrims and Indians sitting down together to sing "kumbaya." Well, we're not quite so traditional either. Our own Thanksgiving really dates back to either 1777, 1863, 1939, or 1942. The first date represents the first proclamation of Thanksgiving by the new United States of America, by act of the Continenal Congress, which declared Thursday, the 18th of December as a day of Thanksgiving. Clearly, that would not have provided an adequate Christmas shopping season.

Thanksgiving moved around for many years after the Revolution, until the Civil War. During that event, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as the date. And so it was celebrated each year thereafter for the better part of a century. In reality, Abraham Lincoln is the father of Thanksgiving in North America. The Confederate Memorial in the photo might more appropriately have turkeys around it instead of the medallian of "Old Tice." Who is "Old Tice," anyway? We called up the Texas Civil War Museum and THEY didn't know.

Anyway, THINGS WERE GOOD. But then, came the Great Depression and Franklin Roosevelt. November in 1939 had FIVE Thursdays in it. Concerned about shopping days until Christmas (this really is true!), Franklin Roosevelt, by proclamation, overrode the Lincoln tradition and declared Thanksgiving on the FOURTH Thursday that year. Well, despite what you may have been told in school history class, not everyone idolized Roosevelt. Twenty three states went along with Roosevelt. Twenty two did not. TEXAS, sensing a good thing, declared BOTH days a holiday. Ya gotta LOVE TEXAS!

Well, this couldn't go on, so Congress stepped back in again to finally settle things, with 1942 representing the first official "fourth Thursday" Thanksgiving. Myself, I think they should have adopted the Texas Plan.

So, if you wonder, Canada could easily have wound up with their Thanksgiving on November 11 instead of in October. And, as you may have suspected, the American Thanksgiving IS connected to Christmas shopping. Ho ho ho.


Rantwick said...

Hey, thanks for clarification! I've said it once, and I'll say it again... you may be a better Canadian than I am!

Anonymous said...

it's "old Tige," not "old Tice." I know it looks like a "c" rather than a "g." The fact that you can't read the lower inscription doesn't help. google it.

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