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Unlike some holidays such as New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July when people traditionally go out somewhere to celebrate, Thanksgiving is most commonly celebrated at home, with family and friends. This is one of the things I like best about Thanksgiving- we get to share wonderful traditions with those closest to us.   While my article does not include all of the various types of traditions, it is by no means an oversight. This is a brief insight into some of the traditions that continue to present day.

These Thanksgiving traditions and trivia include well-known traditions and little-known trivia about the Thanksgiving Day holiday. They are presented to enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of Thanksgiving. Consider sharing these ideas, stories, and trivia with your friends and family during the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It celebrates the story of the Pilgrim’s meal with the Native Americans and is reserved as a day to spend with loved ones and for giving thanks.     But did you know that several other nations also celebrate an official Thanksgiving Day? Some of the other nations include: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Korea, Liberia, and Switzerland.

According to most historians, the pilgrims never observed an annual Thanksgiving feast in autumn. In the year 1621, they did celebrate a feast near Plymouth, Massachusetts, following their first harvest. But this feast most people refer to as the first Thanksgiving was never repeated.

Oddly enough, most devoutly religious pilgrims observed a day of thanksgiving with prayer and fasting, not feasting. Yet even though this harvest feast was never called Thanksgiving by the pilgrims of 1621, it has become the model for the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Firsthand accounts of this feast, by Edward Winslow and William Bradford, can be found in the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

The traditional Thanksgiving has its roots in the first Thanksgiving celebrations, when there were harvest festivals, or days of thanking God for plentiful crops. It simply reminds us the year 1621 when the Pilgrim’s started the Thanksgiving, which later became a tradition for the entire nation.

In the first Thanksgiving celebrations a thanksgiving feast was organized in which there were dishes like boiled turkey, corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish, which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. The pilgrims had invited their neighbors, Native American Indians, to share the thanksgiving dinner. Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

Even in modern times the people love to follow the Thanksgiving traditions because the importance of the things involved in the traditional Thanksgiving has not reduced for them in any way.

Most families observe with a large meal and sometimes a religious service. Many countries observe a variation of this celebration or have a different holiday along the same themes. It is common to mark the harvest season with celebratory meals and festivals of thanks within many religions and communities, a theme that dates back to ancient pagan festivals. Protestant religions have many connections to the harvest festival of Thanksgiving.

The most widely practiced ritual is the Thanksgiving meal. This usually includes turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, corn, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pies, but many feasts differ between families and cultures. Many see it as a celebration of the harvest, especially farmers, and a commemoration of the pilgrims’ successful harvest with the help of Native Americans.

While the tradition is mainly connected to the feast of the Pilgrims, the Puritans started the tradition before coming to the New World. The Catholic Church had instituted so many special days of remembrance, thanks, feasting, fasting, and resting that the Puritans wanted to remove all holidays and only celebrate Days of Thanksgiving or Days of Fasting. These were observed after an act of special providence, which was a disaster or threat of disaster that the Puritans believed were as a result of judgment from God. Events observed with Days of Thanksgiving include the English conquering of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the 1606 Gunpowder Plot catastrophe.

While the American tradition is believed to have origins with the Pilgrims’ meal at Plymouth in 1621, this even was not given proper documentation and many do not wish to involve the relationship of the settlers with the Native Americans on this holiday given the two groups’ violent history. The story goes that after the Pilgrims’ Plymouth colony had a difficult winter filled with disease, starvation, and death, the colony received assistance from Squanto and his Patuxet tribe. The Native Americans allegedly taught the pilgrims to grow their own crops and other methods of survival in the New England environment, in particular the method of using fish to fertilize corn crops. After their first successful harvest, the pilgrims celebrated with a feast at which Squanto and members of his tribe were in attendance.

However, this story is widely debated, as similar stories originate from Spanish settlements and other groups of settlers. Due to this, the story is widely regarded as a cultural myth. In fact, it is believed that Squanto knew how to communicate with the settlers because he was previously enslaved by John Smith and taken on several voyages back to England before returning to his homeland to find the Patuxet tribe eliminated through disease, which was spread by the settlers. With no home tribe, Squanto, also called Tisquantum, settled with the English at the Plymouth colony, later serving as a guide and translator for the settlers as they visited Native American tribes. But many of these tribes distrusted Squanto for his allegiance with the settlers. The holiday’s true origins are attributed to the Puritan Feast of Thanksgiving, a tradition which many pilgrims observed in the New World.

Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States used to differ according to state. It was traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday of November in the early 1800s. Sarah Josepha Hale a writer who became well known for campaigning for an official date for 40 years through letters to political leaders. In 1863, President Lincoln issued a proclamation that all states will celebrate Thanksgiving on this day. This act was an effort to unite the North and the South, but due to rebellion of the North’s authority, the holiday was not consistently celebrated on the same day until after Reconstruction. A joint resolution was signed by Congress and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 to change the holiday to the fourth Thursday of November rather than the last, believing the earlier economic boost to be beneficial to the United States economy.

There are a few Thanksgiving traditions besides the meal. Many churches hold a special Thanksgiving Day service centered on giving thanks to God. At the meal, many families observe the ritual of going around the table to express what each member is thankful for. Some family members will travel long distances to attend this yearly reunion.    During the meal, the family may break the turkey wishbone. Whoever pulls away the larger piece gets a wish granted. The President of the United States also traditionally pardons a live turkey, meaning the turkey will live on a farm without threat of being eaten.

Some will observe the holiday through charity work. Common activities include serving and preparing meals at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, organizing food and clothing drives, and participating in community outreach programs.

Many cities hold large festivals or parades to honor Thanksgiving. One of the largest is New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is currently called Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade begins in the morning and goes down Central Park West to Macy’s Herald Square on 34th street. The parade started in 1924 and over two million people attend the parade annually. The parade ties for second oldest Thanksgiving parade with Detroit’s America’s Thanksgiving Parade behind the Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.

Kathy Kiefer



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Festive autumn place settings with pumpkins



Thanksgiving is the time of the year that we join together with family and friends and give thanks for our blessings but we should be giving thanks daily to our Savior.

Autumn is the favorite time of the year for many people especially if you live in an area of the United States where you could enjoy all the colors of the trees as they began the process of shedding leaves for the winter season. It also can put you in the frame of that that it will soon be Thanksgiving. Truly, for the Christian, every day should be a time for thanksgiving and praises to God for all He has done for us.  Along with this time of year we bring out special songs of thanksgiving that we have been singing for years and years.

Feasts, parades, and football are all well and good, but Thanksgiving Day, as the name itself suggests is a day to be thankful for all that you’ve got: family, friends, food, clothes, shelter, job, and most importantly: life and the celebration can never be complete until a heartfelt thanks is offered. And the power of offering thanks gets multiplied when it is backed by Thanksgiving music and songs that you’ve either grown up to, or have touched you deep. On Thanksgiving, when the whole family is together, make use of the Thanksgiving songs to offer thanks to the Almighty or have them play in low volume at the dinner table: right from the moment one says grace before starting the dinner to the end of the meal. Even if you are to indulge in some fun family moments, music will be one of the best of options. However, don’t worry if there aren’t many good Thanksgivings songs that you know of, I have found some soulful songs that will help you express the thankfulness that you feel but are unable to convey and am sharing them here. See if any of them bring you back to a special memory or if it causes you to think of our loving Heavenly Father and His great mercy, grace and love.

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS   – This is a joyful song based up the poem written in 1844 by Lydia Maria Child.   I remember singing it when I was younger, even though we had the Thanksgiving holiday with the immediate family, not at my grandmother’s home.   My brother and I were born in a medium sized town in New York State and my Grandmother lived in more of a rural/country environment upstate. When I was younger what it would be like to travel over the river and through the woods   instead of going over the river and through the words instead of through neighborhoods with concrete and so many houses and less trees?   I always imagined what it was like to travel by horse and carriage or even a sleigh drawn by a horse in the snow.   When we did go upstate to visit our grandmother and other family members we traveled by car. It truly was an adventure to go upstate where it was always so peaceful and calm as opposed to where we lived.   I always looked forward to the trips upstate. I also remember watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” where near the end Charlie Brown and friends are in his father’s car going to Thanksgiving Dinner at his Grandmothers when they start singing Over the River and Through the Woods.   Charlie replies “there’s only one problem, My Grandmother lives in a condominium.”

From the iconic Macy’s Day Parade, to that tender turkey and perfectly seasoned batch of stuffing you’ve been pining over for hours, on over to spending quality time with loved ones; few days are better than Thanksgiving.

Music is a daily integral part of most of our lives, but for some reason it plays an even bigger role come the holiday season. Whether you throw some energetic modern music on to fuel your cooking, or play the classics softly in the background while your family enjoys dinner; Thanksgiving is full of music.

With that said I often wonder why there aren’t hundreds of classic Thanksgiving songs like there are for Christmas. Imagine Mariah Carey or Michael Buble releasing Thanksgiving/food themed albums come turkey day? It’d be phenomenally great and weird but great nonetheless.

Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue – This song is dedicated to those who may have relocated to other states and brave long road trips or airports to head back “home” to spend Thanksgiving with family.

Big Parade by The Lumineers – What’s Thanksgiving without the “Big Parade”? The holiday just wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for the Macy’s parade and those awesomely large floating cartoon characters…and Santa Claus.

Thank You by Jay Z – Mr. Carter eloquently says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, you’re far too kind” on this aptly titled song. Thanks for the reminder, I’ll be sure to rap this at the dinner table when I ask someone to pass the salt.

Comin’ Home Baby by Mel Torme – The first non-contemporary song on our “Songs for Thanksgiving” playlist was released in 1962 and similarly to Motley Crue’s song, encapsulates that feeling of rushing home to be with loved ones.

I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful for by Bing Crosby – Bing says he doesn’t have the biggest yard or the fanciest things but he still has plenty to be thankful for. In the hustle and bustle of our lives we sometimes lose sight of how much we do have. It’s always good to take a step back and acknowledge that we have a lot to be thankful for.

Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp – Turkey, stuffing and…mashed potatoes! Enough said.

Baby, it’s Cold Outside by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan – We continue in a string of more classic music from yesteryear with this classic holiday song. There’s a nip in the air by Thanksgiving assuredly, but we also all know that once that last slice of apple pie gets eaten, we set our sights on the Christmas and Hanukkah and this song perfectly captures the feeling of that season.

Stuffy Turkey by Thelonius Monk – This all instrumental track is a great song to play quietly in the background as your carve your…stuffy turkeys.

Thanksgiving Theme by Vince Guaraldi Trio – This lesser known song from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving/A Charlie Brown Christmas is another delightful accompaniment to your Thanksgiving festivities.

Wing$ by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – While this song is a celebration of Macklemore’s obsession with the Michael Jordan Nike shoe, I figured it’d be better to dedicate “Wing$” to the millions of turkey wings that will be eaten on Thanksgiving.

Eat It by Weird Al Yankovic – No Thanksgiving playlist could be complete without including one of the most iconic food songs of all time. After I struggle through my second serving of food and peer painfully at scrumptious desserts, I’ll take a page out of Weird Al’s book and say to myself, “Don’t you tell me you’re full, just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it.” (Even if you are unfamiliar with the words, the tune is familiar; it is done to Michael Jackson’s Beat It).

I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons – For those who are surrounded by the amazing smells of pies, turkey, stuffing and other treats as they’re being prepared all day, Mumford’s “I Will Wait” is a perfect mantra to repeat. “I will wait…and not eat all the pumpkin pie before my guests come over.

Thank You by Dido – While most remember parts of this song from the sample Eminem pulled from it for “Stan” in 2000, this beautiful song is a great track to throw on towards the latter part of your night.

The Thanksgiving Song by Adam Sandler – It is quite surprising that one of the best known and flat out most iconic Thanksgiving songs come from a comedian and not even a musician. We’re definitely saving the best for last here as Sandler’s tune is both hilarious and resoundingly true as exemplified by this complex lyric: “Turkey lurkey doo and Turkey lurkey dap I eat that turkey Then I take a nap”.

Kathy Kiefer


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There are many ways of decorating a home for Thanksgiving. The season provides us with all the necessary material for decoration. Think fallen branches, colorful foliage, gourds and pumpkins as material for home and Thanksgiving table decorations.

GOURDS – Gourds can be used as decorations in so many ways. From vases to candleholders you can transform gourds to your own purposes and decorate indoors as well as a porch with them. A group of small gourds can make for a great centerpiece or a welcoming festive porch decoration.

CRANBERRIES – Use cranberries and other fruit and plants to fill empty vases and bowls, decorate a Thanksgiving wreath or create a centerpiece. Cranberries can also be used to create dimensional decorations that will also make for great Thanksgiving table decor.

FOLIAGE – Foliage is a great Thanksgiving decoration and can be used in abundance. Hang it from the ceiling or use it in garlands to bring the festive spirit to the house. Leaf wreaths look great and are quite easy to make.

CORN – Corn is another vase-filling material that can bring color and texture to your Thanksgiving table decor. Use corn ears to create more decorations like candleholders, or even in arrangements to be placed on the front door.

Set the mood for your holiday celebration with creative decorating ideas for Thanksgiving, including centerpieces, place settings, indoor fall wreaths, and more.   Many Thanksgiving decorating ideas consist of natural elements and easy-to-find supplies to ensure a beautiful seasonal display. For a handmade Thanksgiving centerpiece all your holiday dinner guests will adore, there are many ideas, from fruit-filled displays and trays of gorgeous gourds to candle collections and natural centerpieces with flowers and leaves. Mark each spot on the table with an easy Thanksgiving place card, ensuring that you control the seating arrangement on this holiday. To round out your decor, use the best of nature by using gourd and pumpkin decorating ideas for Thanksgiving. An interesting way to gather Thanksgiving decorating inspiration is from home tours, and fall mantel ideas gives you a sneak peek into real homes to see how they celebrate the holiday. Still not sure how to decorate? Get personalized decorating ideas for Thanksgiving featuring fall centerpieces, wreaths, and more that fit your style and skill level — for free!

Thanksgiving decoration ideas are as abundant as the many blessings that we have in our lives. It’s simply about giving thanks and enjoying time together.

As you decorate for Thanksgiving, begin with your front porch. What better way to say “welcome” than with beautiful outdoor Thanksgiving decorations.  Your family and guests will appreciate the splendor of the season.

Message board – As family or guests arrive for Thanksgiving, have them write what they are thankful for on a paper leaf and pin it up. This frame was constructed using a linen-covered foam core and an old frame. Cut paper leaves from old books or scrapbook paper in different fall shades.

These crafty and creative do-it-yourself Thanksgiving decorations make creating your own Thanksgiving decor simple and fun, and these fall decorating ideas are easy enough for your whole family to join in. Whimsical, homey, upcycled and frugal, they’re the decorations you’ll go back to year after year.

Pretty little burlap leaves would be gorgeous on a garland. Or use a felt marker to write names on them for place cards, tie them around candlesticks, or scatter them across a mantel. Whatever you use these cuties for, the ideas are endless! If you love autumn leaves, try another nifty craft for plaster-dipped oak leaves.

Little acorns are easily made from scratch. Repurposing old plastic Easter eggs, these little guys are also pretty green, at least for our earth! Any festive fabric would do for the covering, so recruit your troops and put together a handful or two. Arrange them in a bowl, use them to fill a vase, or scatter them around on a holiday buffet for a natural, seasonal touch.

When it comes to centerpieces, vintage wooden spools offer a novel way to display dried leaves or branches. (If using fresh flowers, seek out spools with hollow cores wide enough to accommodate floral tubes.) What is the vessel that contains our loose arrangement of dahlias and pomegranates? It’s a ceramic utensil holder.

Craft the cheapest candlestick ever: A $2 roll of jute twine from the hardware store! Pop a taper inside, then set it atop a plate.

Pomegranate Centerpieces – Ripe fruit is as lush as any flower. Here, you can use opulent pomegranates for these autumnal centerpieces. Cut each branch to a height that allows its heavy fruits to rest on the rim of your vase. Then fill in with inexpensive foliage, such as the purple shiso leaves.   Using apples or persimmons also works well.

Crabapple Arrangements –   What is the best thing about this sort of arrangement? There’s absolutely no arranging involved.  Simply strip the leaves from each limb before putting it in a vase. This treatment highlights the prettiest feature of the plant is its fruit. Try grouping several different-size vases for even greater visual payoff. The same thing could be done by trying figs or chestnuts.

Asian Pear Arrangements – Cut or buy these beautiful branches long, then balance their heft with an equally sizable container. Start by placing your tallest cuttings in the middle, and fan out with the shorter ones from there. An ideal home for such a striking setup: a low piece of furniture, like a chest or bench.     You could also try making arrangements by using forsythia or olive branches.

For favors sure to spark conversation, turn acorn caps into adorable mini-candles by filling them with melted wax and inserting short wicks (allow one hour of cooling time). To assemble a complete glow-on-the-go kit, stash the tiny lights, plus a few matches, in a wood box tricked out with a striker, a.k.a. a strip of sandpaper glued to one side. The final touch: Personalize the lid with a sweet frame stamp and a handwritten note.

Go beyond the typical autumn tropes with inspired dishware. This beautiful dinner plate features classic seasonal colors, like orange, yellow, and green, and plenty of foliage as well. But it also incorporates blowsy flowers and surprising shades of soft blue and peachy pink—which inspired the look for the table scape. You can top off each dinner plate with a smaller white dish and a sprinkle of paper-punched confetti leaves.

Let nature take its course with a DIY leaf runner. Crafted from lush blue and green felt, this table topper perks up plain linens and provides a padded path for hot plates. Download a leaf template and use it to cut the shapes out of felt. Create enough leaves to traverse your table, then hand-stitch the edges together in a whimsical, overlapping design.

A feather lends a place card fine finish. More than just a way to denote seating arrangements, this pretty plumage doubles as wearable art—thanks to a bar pin hot-glued to the back. Make the quill stand upright by hot-gluing a magnet to the side of a cork, then sliding the place card between the feather pin and cork magnet. As for the gorgeous handwriting, calligraphy can do the trick.

Not all DIY front-door decor requires a foam wreath form. To make an elegant cluster, select 8 four- to six-inch pinecones and 8 two-foot-long pieces of silk ribbon. Use a hot-glue gun to adhere the last two inches of each ribbon to the base of a cone. After the glue dries, collect all the ribbon ends and stagger them so that the cones fall at varying lengths. Tie the ribbon ends together in a knot, trim the tips so they are uniform, and slip the knot over a finishing nail.

Stamp a message and design on cardstock, punch holes on either side, and thread with a coordinating ribbon to create custom napkin holders. If you have children around and they would like to help, they may enjoy stamping colorful messages and designs onto napkins before guests arrive.

These are such simple ideas, but oh-so-frugal and easy for all ages to do – a great way to keep fingers busy on Thanksgiving morning! Plus, candleholders and vases filled with seasonal items will make any home smell and feel festive.

Kathy Kiefer