Thanksgiving Traditions

Published on 10 November 2023 at 09:00

It's an early morning in October 1863 and the White House is quiet. The nation has won a long and hard-fought battle at Gettysburg. The only sound inside of Secretary of State William Seward's office is the scratching of his pen as it flows across a piece of paper. 


"I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving…" 


His words would become those of the Thanksgiving Proclamation. Lincoln, all too aware of the loss on both sides of the Civil War would issue the Proclamation making Thanksgiving an official holiday.


This Proclamation is one of nine that  he would issue during his time as President. But a National Day of Thanks would not have come if not for a letter written by Sarah Josepha Hale and others during a national letter-writing campaign that began in 1846, several years before Lincoln took office. Sarah Josepha Hale is probably best known as the editor of The Boston's Ladies' Magazine and was the author of Mary Had a Little Lamb. 

Aside from the history of Thanksgiving, the holiday has given Americans some wonderful and heartwarming traditions. For example, growing up as kids we got to watch Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and as I got older, football. 


There is, however, still something magical about Thanksgiving. Whether it is because the leaves here in Appalachia have burst into color and have all but fallen, or the smell of pumpkin and pecan pies baking that can be smelt coming from our grandmother's kitchens, Thanksgiving marks a time of togetherness and home. It is all of these activities that made it possible for us as kids to bond with our parents, grandparents, and learn what being thankful truly meant. 


Moreover, it has been the stories shared, the food, the recipes, and the faith over the years that have sustained and followed me. Much like our ancestors before us who braved impossible odds to reach a New World, Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. It's a brief moment when we take a look back on all that we have overcome, obstacles both big and small, throughout the year. 


Dividing Ridge Genealogy would like to wish every one of our followers, supporters, and clients a very wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope you will share with us some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or history fun facts. Follow us on social media and visit our Contact page if you would like to be a guest blogger.


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