In l863, Thanksgiving Day became an American Holiday,
to honor the Pilgrims. As you will read, the major concern
for Thanksgiving is the menu, which has not changed since
the first Holiday. The women in the family would plan days
in advance for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday. Some of
the foods would be made far in advance. One such food was
the mincemeat pies which were made 3 - 4 weeks before the
The women often worked together cooking, since their workload
for the Holiday was increased enormously. Of course, the house
cleaning was also increased because it was customary to give
the servants the day off. If you were lucky enough to have a
maid. The menu for Thanksgiving usually consisted of the
following: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, chicken salad,
onions and potatoes, mince pie and cider. As you have read,
the menu has not changed much over the years. We all know,
the most important custom on Thanksgiving is the gathering
of family and friends, and being thankful for the
togetherness the Holiday brings.
Various customs have through the years become associated with
Thanksgiving Day. Some have died out while others flourished.
In New England in the nineteenth century a raffleof fowls
was traditionally held on Thanksgiving Eve and there was a
shooting match on Thanksgiving morning. Also in the nineteenth
century, in the large cities, poor children would to go about
the streets in costume begging fruit, vegetables, and money.
The playing of sports has been a Thanksgiving custom from the
beginning. From the stool ball of the Pilgrims to the bicycle
races of the past century to thefootball games of the present,
Thanksgiving has been a continuously active holiday. Schools
and church classes around the country also use the Thanksgiving
theme as a basis for plays to educate the children in American
history. Some cities hold parades to portray the Spirit of
Thanksgiving and to welcome in the Christmas season.