Musings on Thanksgiving. . .

Thanksgiving Day is an interesting phenomenon.

I just love the traditional Thanksgiving dinner: Roast turkey with stuffing, a sweet potato or winter squash souffle-type side dish (sometimes with yams, sometimes with marshamallow fluff mixed in), cranberry sauce (sometimes cranberry-orange), and then those fantastic desserts which we rarely have during the rest of the year, such as pumpkin pie, and a special tradition in our house thanks to my-husband-the-chef, french chocolate silk pie, and pecan pie as well.
Years ago we also used to make apple pie, in addition to the three aforementioned ones. It's no wonder we gained a little spare tire over the years. . . In their great wisdom, the powers that be of the time, the early Pilgrims, set aside a holiday after their first harvest in 1621, which was

" autumn celebration of food, feasting, and praising G-d."

In 1789, President George Washington issued a "National Thanksgiving Proclamation" assigning the day to Thursday, the 26th of November. Later, Abraham Lincoln declared it a Federal holiday on the last Thursday in November, and in the twentieth century, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November as the official date of Thanksgiving.
But some of us, as Jews, have a slightly different take on this day. You see, among the little-known factoids of American life - such as Hebrew almost being chosen by the Pilgrims as the official language of the New World before they decided on English - the holiday of Thanksgiving was actually modeled on the biblical Sukkot, (also here) which is the thanksgiving harvest holiday, commanded by G-d to be observed by Jews.
Sukkot is right up there in importance with the holidays of Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentecost, or "The Feast of Weeks") which together comprise the three Pilgrimage Holidays for Jews in the Torah (Old Testament).
In addition, we observant Jews give 'thanks' every day, in our daily tefilot (prayers), in the brachot (blessings) which we say over the food that we eat, and especially every week, on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, which is the holiest day of the week and commanded by G-d. Being on Thursdays, Thanksgiving would take the emphasis off Shabbat, interfere with preparations for Shabbat and thus minimize it's importance.
Interestingly enough, some historians think that the reason for choosing Thursday as the official Thanksgiving Day was just that, for Christians: so as not to minimized or interfere with their Sabbath, which is on Sunday:

(Read more about it here.)
This combination of facts contributed to our decision, many years ago when the kids were little and our family was all together, to start a new family minhag (custom) of making homemade pizza on Thanksgiving Day and - so as not to forgo that delicious meal of roast turkey with all the trimmings - to make the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for Friday night, the first Sabbath meal.
Needless to say, it was a big hit with our kids; sometimes they even chipped in and helped make the pizza!
Happy Thanksgiving.


Anonymous said…
Gobble. Gobble, Gobble. Gobble.


Lady-Light said…
Anon: I know who you are, and I know where you live! (I love turkey, too; and we're gonna have some, tonight!)
Bar Kochba said…
Mmmm.... sounds great! Enjoy!
Anonymous said…

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