Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and it dates all the way back to 1620. According to History.com website, 102 passengers arrived in the new country from England on a ship called Mayflower. These pilgrims started their new home in Plymouth, Massachusetts and their first year was full of hardship and half of the passengers didn’t survive to see the following spring. In March 1621, the settlers met two Native Americans who taught them how to farm corn and avoid poisonous plants. They also helped them to build an alliance with the local Native American tribe Wampanoag.
In November 1621, the settlers had a successful harvest, and they invited their new friends for a feast. This is considered as the first Thanksgiving, even though, it wasn’t recognized as an official American holiday until 1863, 242 years later, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it to be a national Thanksgiving Day and held each November.
Traditionally families get together on this day and friends enjoy “friendsgivigns” prior to the actual date. This year the holiday falls on the 26th of November and it is most likely going to be different for many. We will not be traveling to see our families. We are not inviting friends over for dinner. Many will spend this day alone, or just with the immediate family members, perhaps zoom calling to the out-of-town family.
The first Thanksgiving brought two different groups of people together, to share and enjoy the harvest. The first Thanksgiving menu in 1621 didn’t seem to have a turkey, nor any pies, and according to the History page, they didn’t have an oven where to bake. Pies have become a huge part of the feast and my favorite is pecan for sure. Even if we must spend this day this year with smaller group of people, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy all the treats and good foods that the Thanksgiving Feast is all about.
I am from Finland and my husband from Puerto Rico. During my first year living in the US, I wanted to cook a turkey just to see how difficult it was cooking a full, huge, bird. Now I’m hooked and over the years, this day has started to resemble us as a couple more and more. I have replaced the cranberry sauce with Finnish Lingonberry sauce. My husband makes his famous Puerto Rican rice for the side (as a side dish, make it without the chicken). Sometimes I make Rosolli, famous Finnish beet salad so I can practice it once before Christmas time. Homemade pickles, cocktail onions, Turun Sinappi (mustard from Turku, Finland), avocados, and oven veggies seasoned with Adobo belong to the setting as well. And of course, not forgetting the Flan, made with my mother-in-law’s recipe. As you can see, our feast is a mix of our cultures and when thinking about it, the Turkey is the only “original” dish.
Has your family merged different cultures together, in perfect harmony, and how it might be displayed in your holiday celebrations?
Finland doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, it being an American holiday, however, it could be celebrated everywhere in the world in the exact sense of the name: Thanks-Giving. Year 2020 has been difficult and different for many. Thanksgiving this year will be changed as well, perhaps completely virtual, when we are not able to visit our loved ones. However, we must look beyond, and together, we will get through this pandemic, and there are so many things that we can be thankful for: health, coming first to mind, this being the Covid year and all.
I’m sure that many of you agree, when I say thank you to everyone working in the healthcare field. Thank you for helping people suffering of COVID-19 and showing up to work every day. Thank you to the amazing doctors, beautiful kindhearted nurses, ER staff, and everyone working in the hospitals, and health centers. Without you, I don’t even want to think were we would be.
Thank you, our remarkable readers, for all your support, page visits, reading our articles, and giving us feedback and tips. Thank you for being true American Finns and being proud of your Finnish roots.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!