Ever since 1863, when it became a national holiday in the United States, American families have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. Officially, it is a day to express thanks for the blessings they received and enjoyed. Admittedly, the holiday took a long time to form, yet it became one of the most awaited holidays annually in the country, and is regarded as one of only two nondenominational events in the US.
With the long weekend, the opportunity to connect again with family and friends, it is no wonder that people make a big deal out of Thanksgiving. As such, it has spawned a lot of symbols that live on until today. Here are the top five most memorable Thanksgiving symbols.
The cornucopia or horn of plenty is actually a symbol for bountiful harvests that originated from the Greek legends, wherein a goat named Amalthea presented one of its horns to the god Zeus. Cornucopias were once fashioned out of hollowed out goats’ horns, which were then filled with fruits and vegetables from a recent harvest.
The first Thanksgiving feast coincided with the Keepunumuk, or the harvest time for the Wampanoag, the Native American neighbors of the Mayflower pilgrims.
Corn actually livens up the dinner table on Thanksgiving. More than just providing delicious dinner fare (from corn muffins, soup, to various recipes featuring corn), corn was also part of the first Thanksgiving feast between the pilgrims and the native Americans.
It was also one of the crops that the Native Americans taught our forefathers to plant, and helped them survive their first bitter winter.
The tradition continues on today, wherein corn graces the dinner table on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving not only commemorates the blessings people received for the past year. It also commemorates the gratitude of the Mayflower Pilgrims to their Native American neighbors who helped them after their departure from England in the 17th century.
It is said that after the Native Americans helped the pilgrims survive even through winter and taught them how to plant crops, they showed their appreciation by holding a feast.
Today, paper cutouts and statuettes of both pilgrims and Native American adorn almost every American home during the Thanksgiving celebrations.
2. Beans and Cranberry
It is believed that Native Americans taught the pilgrims to grow beans alongside their corn, which provided poles for the beans to grow on. As such, beans became part of the Thanksgiving tradition for the same reasons as corn.
Cranberries are also an important Thanksgiving symbol. It is said that pilgrims first learned to sweeten cranberries with sugar making it a great sauce. Up to this day, no Thanksgiving turkey is served without cranberry sauce.
It seems that every Thanksgiving dinner needs to have a turkey. More than providing a sumptuous feast, the turkey is actually a commemoration of the first Thanksgiving dinner wherein wild turkeys were believed to have been butchered and served. For the record, however, it could have been any other fowl.
Since then, every American household always roasted turkeys and served them on Thanksgiving. The turkey has been strongly associated with Thanksgiving that the day is sometimes referred to as "Turkey Day" and there is the "Turkey Song" that is aptly sung after the dinner.