Happy Thanksgiving from
This year during Thanksgiving dinner let us all give a toast to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, who launched a seventeen-year crusade to make “Thanksgiving a national festival similar to the Fourth of July.”
The original Thanksgiving took place in 1621 but it wasn’t until the Civil War in 1863 that Mrs. Hale efforts paid off. A firm believer that sitting down to dinner as a nation would unify the north and the south, she wrote a letter to President Lincoln dated September 28, 1963 read in part:
“Permit me, as Editress of the “Lady’s Book”, to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and — as I trust — even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.”
The letter must have hit a nerve because on October 3rd President Lincoln issued a national Thanksgiving proclamation, setting aside the last Thursday in November for the occasion.
Each year, following that first “official” Thanksgiving, a presidential proclamation was issued for the celebration of the holiday on the fourth Thursday of the month. President Franklin Roosevelt upset the apple cart when he declared that Thanksgiving would “hereafter be held on the third Thursday in November.” This pleased merchants as it allowed more shopping days for Christmas, but riled Republicans and football coaches, who accused the president of messing with a sacred tradition and, heaven forbid, football schedules.
For two years, Thanksgiving was celebrated on two different days, depending on political affiliations, or the state you lived in. Despite the inconvenience, there was an upside. If you didn’t want to have dinner with, say, Uncle Herbert, a democrat, all you had to do was become a republican or move to a different state.
Finally, in 1941 Congress officially declared that Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November. This pleased football coaches, but didn’t do much for battling family members who now had to celebrate Thanksgiving together.
Speaking of Mrs. Hale, anyone brave enough to try out her recipe for Thanksgiving Turkey?
|Prepare a stuffing of pork sausage meat, one beaten egg, and a few crumbs of bread; or, if sausages are to be served with the turkey, stuffing as for fillet of veal; in either, a little shred shalot is an improvement. Stuff the bird under the breast; dredge it with flour, and put it down to a clear brisk fire; at a moderate distance the first half-hour but afterwards nearer.|
Baste with butter; and when the turkey is plumped up, and the steam draws towards the fire, it will be nearly done; then dredge it lightly with flour, and baste it with a little more butter, first melted in the basting-ladle. Serve with gravy in the dish, and bread sauce in a tureen. It may be garnished with sausages, or with fried forcemeat, if veal-stuffing be used. Sometimes the gizzard and liver are dipped into the yolk of an egg, sprinkled with salt and cayenne, and then put under the pinions, before the bird is put to the fire. Chestnuts, stewed in gravy, are likewise eaten with turkey. A very large turkey will require three hours’ roasting; one of eight or ten pounds, two hours; and a small one, an hour and a half.