Our country is best known as the melting pot of various cultures that have contributed distinct traditions and flavors to the American culture that we have now; in the same vein that the American culture has influenced various other cultures around the world. One of the most distinct American cultures that are widely celebrated to this day is the Thanksgiving Day. Today, we will take a good look at the various thanksgiving traditions from coast to coast.
It is believed that the very first Thanksgiving Day can be traced as far back as 1621 when the Indians from Wampanoag shared a feast of their autumn harvest with the colonists from Plymouth. Later on in 1863, it was President Abraham Lincoln who declared a national celebration for Thanksgiving Day every month of November. The celebration was made for the purpose of healing the rift between the Northern and Southern parts of the country.
Thanksgiving is said to be all about traditions. Where families with strong immigrant lineages can prepare roast turkey, have dinner with the family and be thankful for everything that they have and enjoy.
Thanksgiving – Ultimate American Holiday
Thanksgiving Day remains to be the ultimate American holiday for everyone. Depending on where you reside or your cultural heritage what exactly shows up on the table on that big day can vary from one home to another. A household from the Midwest might equate Thanksgiving celebration with some wild rice stuffed dishes, whereas people from Louisiana may consider meals that are heavily dressed with oyster sauce as part of their dinner buffet.
The differences and similarities are fused together by these signature dishes that are served from coast to coast:
The highlight of any American home dinner table and the ‘star’ in every Thanksgiving meal is the roast turkey. Turkey serves as the centerpiece staple since the late 19th century. Turkey may be cooked and prepared in a variety of ways from grilled, roasted, fried, smoked, etc.
The Pumpkin Pie
Another mainstay of the Thanksgiving feast is the pumpkin pie. It is said that the first pumpkin pie was first documented in a recipe book way back in 1796. Who doesn’t love pumpkin pie anyway?
For several centuries now, cranberry sauce has been synonymous with Thanksgiving Day and Turkey Day. Some like it canned, while some love it homemade, this condiment will never be out on any Thanksgiving feast day.
The breaking of the wishbone is not native to the Americans; it in fact originated from the Romans. The ancient Romans used the ‘furcula,’ washed and dried them, so people can make wishes on them. Eventually, the wishing was handed down from one generation to another, and now the wishing is a highly observed act where two people breaking the bone and the person who gets the bigger part will get their wish granted.
In the 19th century, folks from the US were so crazy about oysters. You will find a wide array of oyster dishes from pan-fried, scalloped, and even stewed on a Thanksgiving Day. The oysters were highly associated with the holidays. Even those from the Midwest, they love to have oyster dishes on a Turkey Day and even up until Christmas.
However, there are some places where oysters have already disappeared from their dinner tables aside from the occasional stuffed turkeys; nonetheless areas like the Pacific Northwest are still embracing the tradition especially in the oyster producing areas such as Indiana.
From the beginning of the NFL, the game schedule has always fallen on a Thanksgiving Day. The Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions have known to host games on a Turkey Day celebration for years. All in all, there are six teams that play on a Thanksgiving with three games in total.
Celebrations In Other Areas
For the Southern part of the US, the celebration of the Thanksgiving Day was accepted with some hesitations. They even initially refused to accept December 25 as the birth of Christ, theoretically they suspect Thanksgiving to be some kind of hoax Christmas celebration that they are hesitant to embrace or welcome. As years went by, they have learned to accept the tradition.
For the Southerners, their Thanksgiving menus are way distinctive compared to the rest of the country. For example, the South would gladly add some red meat with their turkey, roast beef for Memphis, and even country ham for Maryland. They would even throw in some dishes that exemplify their New England roots like potato salad or some macaroni and cheese. Also, in Texas, pies does not have to be all traditional pumpkin pie, instead they would add a twist with some coconut cream pie, lemon chiffon cake, or the delectable moist chocolate cake.
If you are in the Midwest, you will experience that the squash is boiled as well as mashed compared to those in the east where they like it baked and then stuffed. This is the portion of the country where you will find mostly Scandinavian and German influences. So, their turkey may most likely come with dumplings, cheese noodles, sauerkraut, custard, and some European cakes.
On some parts of the South, they still serve the all-time favorite relish tray consisting of pickles, olives, carrots, and some celery spears. They would showcase the century’s long tradition of serving rare and sumptuous appetizers.
Amazing Cultural Diversity Unified On Thanksgiving Day
Americans are fascinated by the similarities and the many differences; there are so many dishes that popped up all over the country featuring foods such as turkey, cranberry sauce, and more. Thanks to the country’s diverse culinary cultures and the rich fusion of vegetables, fruits, grains, fish, and meat where each menu is made completely unique from the rest.
Eventually, the popular roast turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce became highly tied to the holiday. Apart from the turkey-pumpkinpie-cranberry domination, the Thanksgiving table has been as diverse and colorful as the country itself. Each and every single region has their very own listings of traditional dishes without which the holidays won’t be complete.
Despite the diversity and various cultures, the Thanksgiving holiday remains a family holiday regardless of regional or ethnic origins; it will remain a tenacious family tradition that will be handed down from one generation to another.
Do you ever wonder what Thanksgiving celebrations will be like in the year 2020? For sure it will be an eclectic family tradition infused with the diversity of countries and regional orientations, nevertheless we are 100% sure that turkey, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce will remain a mainstay of every American household this holiday and in many years to come. After all, there is always a reason to give thanks and celebrate!