The History behind Thanksgiving

While you get excited for the delicious meal you are going to consume today, take a moment to be reminded of the history behind this holiday.

What people commonly refer to as the “First Thanksgiving” occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in Plymouth with a feast. It is reported that it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.

When the Pilgrims first arrived in New England they spent the first few months living on the Mayflower to try and make it through the harsh winter. Many of the passengers died of exposure, scurvy and other diseases. In spring, those who had made it through the winter, moved onto the land where they were greeted by an Abenaki Indian who introduced them to a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, Squanto. Squanto helped the Pilgrims forge a harmonious relationship with the Wampanoag tribe and taught them how to cultivate the land, extract sap from maple trees, fish in local rivers and avoid poisonous plants. Without this hospitality, life in this new land would have been extremely difficult.

Thanks to this relationship, the Pilgrim’s first harvest was a success and the celebration, that included Native Americans from many tribes, lasted three days.

Over the years their colony expanded across America but it wasn’t until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day to be held in November each year and created the start of the modern Thanksgiving celebration. Although there may not have been pumpkin pies served at the first Thanksgiving, we are sure that the Pilgrims would have approved of a holiday centered abound being with loved ones and taking time to be thankful.

 

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR is a full service, globally recognized leader in the incentive industry offering solutions for Meetings and Conferences, Incentive Travel, Special Events and Entertainment, Prepaid Card Services and AXS Contact Center Solutions. We have over 36 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies across many industries. Our clients trust our comprehensive suite of solutions that offer a better way to reach performance, productivity and loyalty objectives. JNR tends to every detail of your program to ensure an extraordinary experience for your customers, employees and participants and a favorable return on your investment. We allow you to step away from the logistical details and let you focus on what you do best.

 

Picture: “A Blessed Thanksgiving To All!” by John is licensed by CC by 2.0.

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving

I love the Fall, the cooler weather, the vibrant colors and Thanksgiving, being grateful for our blessings, no presents, no expectations – just getting together with family and friends, gathering around a picturesque table, partaking in a splendid meal and feeling safe while sharing pleasant and personal conversation.

Thanksgiving is a day for caring, as personal connections are becoming rare with our mobile culture. People are becoming isolated, less connected and possibly less cared for, thus sharing basic human interaction is essential and what better time than Thanksgiving?

What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Do you picture a time of thankfulness toward God and/or your fellow man and woman—or is it merely one of eating, partying and watching football? This day was established for celebrating our blessings. We can not let its meaning slowly deteriorate under a cloud of media hype, sales pitches, marketing tactics and blitz commercialism. We must hold on to our human kinship. We can certainly enjoy all the surrounding festivities, but must keep true priorities in sync.

The Pilgrims could never have imagined America would become the global superpower it is today, where we enjoy the freedoms of religion and speech and welcome individuals and families to emigrate and enjoy these same liberties. We are the first country in support of others. So let’s support one another.

Speaking of Pilgrims…In 1621, on the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, do you think they and their Wampanoag Indian guests dined on turkey dinners, cranberries, candied yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie like most Americans and Canadians do today? Their three-day harvest celebration included deer and wildfowl leaving most of today’s classic Thanksgiving dishes off the table.

Popular myths aside, potatoes—white or sweet—would not have been featured, and neither would sweet corn. Neither was bread stuffing though the Pilgrims may have used herbs or nuts to stuff birds. The table would have been loaded with native fruits like plums, melons, grapes and cranberries, plus local vegetables such as leeks, wild onions, beans, Jerusalem artichokes and squash. For the starring dishes, undoubtedly they included native birds and game as well as the Wampanoag gift of five deer, along with fish and shellfish.

Pilgrims roasted and boiled food. Can’t you imagine venison and whole wildfowl roasting on spits over hot glowing coals, while large brass pots of stews and vegetables were simmering in the household hearth?

In 1789 Federal Congress realized our nation should have a day of Thanksgiving and passed a resolution asking President George Washington to issue a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” – the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new Constitution. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stated that Thanksgiving was to be regularly commemorated the last Thursday of November. In 1939, the last Thursday in November fell on the last day of the month. Concerned the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen economic recovery; President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November. On October 6, 1941, the House passed a joint resolution and agreed to an amendment whereas President Roosevelt signed the resolution on December 26, 1941, establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday. Thank goodness all that changing is over with.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, consider the many wonderful blessings you enjoy. Be thankful, whether in prayer or in thought, be sincere in the same heartfelt manner that the Pilgrims and Indians shared on their first Thanksgiving in North America. Gather with family and friends to give thanks for our many, many blessings. Let’s all do our best to keep the true meaning of Thanksgiving, to enjoy each others company and to share with one another in gratitude.

By LuAnn Jalet

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Thanksgiving Fun Facts

For the next few minutes, depending on how quickly you read, just forget about the ongoing heated debate over the meaning of Thanksgiving VS Black Thursday and Friday and learn some fun holiday facts you can share around the dinner table when the family has stopped talking to one another and your favorite Uncle Joe is fast asleep on the couch.

  1. There are three places in the United States named Turkey.
    1. Turkey, Texas
    2. Turkey, North Carolina
    3. Turkey Creek, Louisiana.
  2. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade used live animals from the Central Park Zoo.
    The parade used floats instead of balloons, and it featured monkeys, bears, camels and elephants all borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.
  3. Jingle Bells was originally a Thanksgiving song.
    In 1857,
    James Pierpoint composed a song for children celebrating Thanksgiving. The title was “One Horse Open Sleigh,” and it was such a hit that it was sung again at Christmas. The song quickly became associated with the Christmas season, and the title was officially changed in 1859, two years later.
  4. The Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving.
    The first NFL football game that took place on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934 when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Lions have played on Thanksgiving ever since, except when the team was called away to serve during World War II.The Dallas Cowboys also always play on Thanksgiving. Their first Thanksgiving Day game was held in 1966, and the Cowboys have only missed two games since then.
  5. The night before Thanksgiving is the best day for bar sales in the United States.
    The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is responsible for t
  6. he most bar sales, more than New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl, or even St. Patrick’s Day. It makes sense, since nearly all Americans have Thanksgiving off and dealing with family members can be very stressful!
  7. Thanksgiving leftovers inspired the first-ever TV dinner.
    In 1953, the original “TV dinner” company Swanson overestimated the demand for turkey by over 260 tons, the owners of the company had no idea what to do with all the leftovers and so they enlisted the help of company salesman Gerry Thomas. Taking inspiration from airplane meals, Thomas ordered 5,000 aluminum trays, and loaded them with the turkey leftovers to create the first TV dinners.
  8. Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the official bird of the United States.
    Benjamin Franklin thought turkeys were much more American than bald eagles and that the turkey is much more respectable.
  1. Thomas Jefferson canceled Thanksgiving during his presidency. 
    George Washington was the first to declare Thanksgiving as a national holiday, but it was on a year-to-year basis, so Presidents had to re-declare it every year. Jefferson was so adamantly against Thanksgiving that he refused to declare it a holiday during his presidency. Most historians agree that Jefferson refused to declare the holiday because he fervently believed in the separation of church and state, and thought that the day of “prayer” for being Thankful violated the First Amendment.
  2. FDR tried to change the date of Thanksgiving — and it caused a lot of problems. 
    In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the second-to-last. The change was made in an attempt to lift the economy during the Great Depression,the idea being that it would give people more time to shop for Christmas. It caused such a public outcry that people began referring to it as “Franksgiving.” After two years, Congress ditched the new policy.
  3. Minnesota produces the most turkeys in the U.S.
    Minnesota produces more turkey than any other state in America, more than 1.16 billion pounds of turkey, valued at nearly $839 million. North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri and Virginia are also top producers.
  4. There is an annual tradition of offering a turkey a Presidential Pardon — and no one is really sure when it began.
    The White House has a tradition of pardoning one lucky turkey each year. The annual tradition was thought to have begun in 1947 with President Harry Truman. But some think that it actually started in the 1860s with Abraham Lincoln after his son Tad begged him to spare his pet turkey’s life. Despite these two theories of the origins of the pardon, George H. W. Bush was the first president to officially grant a turkey a presidential pardon. What a strange tradition!
  5. The Origin of Black Friday was that the black in Black Friday referred to the time when retailers finally got into the black — that is, reached profitability.
    The day after Thanksgiving, which earned a reputation as the biggest shopping day of the year, has always lured price-conscious consumers with the promise of killer deals. But it’s just not all that it used to be, now that retailers are starting their big holiday sales during the days leading up to Black Friday, and those following as well.
  6. Don’t blame the Turkey for your laziness after eating too much.
    As it turns out, turkey contains no more of the amino acid tryptophan than other kinds of poultry. In fact, turkey actually has slightly less tryptophan than chicken. Proteins like turkey, chicken and fish, which are high in tryptophan, require assistance from foods high in carbohydrates to affect serotonin levels.So if eating turkey isn’t exactly the same as popping a sleeping pill, why the sudden grogginess as soon as our holiday feast is over? Well, when people overeat, digestion takes a lot of energy. Don’t incriminate the turkey that you ate, instead incriminate the three plates of food that you piled high. And let’s not forget that the holidays generally mean time off from work and with family. Many people feel more relaxed to begin with (family wars not withstanding). Add alcohol to the mix, and voila! Sleep!

Plus, coming up on the holidays and trying to get all the things done that one would normally be doing, you short cut your sleep and that’s never helpful. So, go ahead, eat that tryptophan induced turkey, at least then you’ll have a good excuse to lie down and take a nap on the couch, right beside your favorite Uncle Joe.

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

To Shop or Not To Shop

Originally, and for hundreds of years, Thanksgiving was a day of celebration, of being thankful for our blessings and sharing with those we love.

Then, Thanksgiving became less traditional meaning turkey, family, football and a day off work.

Now, with “Black Friday”— and sometimes even “Black Thursday” — millions of American households consider Thanksgiving as a prelude to a shopping spree and are intent on rushing out to buy bargains for Christmas.

Black Friday used to be the extra dessert after Thanksgiving, a day to stretch our shopping muscles for Christmas. It was fun, productive and beneficial. But now some of us Americans believe retailers have crossed the line and shoppers have lost their minds, not to mention their manners.

For the last decade, retailers, keen to spur holiday spending, have moved the starting line forward for this consumer sport, luring shoppers to get up earlier and earlier on Black Friday or, in recent years, to leave their homes on Thanksgiving day itself by offering deals on limited supplies of high–visibility products such as must–have toys and the hottest consumer electronics. Grab your credit card, be the first in line, trample your fellow man and woman…get that deal!

Up to 150 million Americans visit stores on Black Thursday and Friday, with almost half this number saying they will definitely shop and the remaining 76 million say they will wait to see what merchants have on offer for the three full days after Thanksgiving. Billions of dollars will be spent.

While it is understandable that brick-and-mortar retailers have become very aggressive trying to reel in customers due to online competition, volatile consumer confidence, minimal margins resulting from continual markdowns and our inconsistent economy, the frenzy caused is absurd.

Gone are the days when shoppers pored over newspaper ads the day after Thanksgiving and then planned their fun trip to the Mall. Shopping now is more of an interactive game, in which consumers hunt and gather bargains forcing retailers to continually extend themselves and still make a profit. It’s all so exhausting.

The great game of holiday buying and selling added another dimension that took hold but is slowly reverting back. Employees are beginning to protest having to work on Thanksgiving. Americans are revisiting conversations about the real meaning of Thanksgiving, which previously had always been a traditionally important and restful holiday. Many of us have grown tired of watching people pushing, shoving and crushing each other on, or within 24 hours of Thanksgiving. Oh, the dichotomy of the human spirit.

The menacing Black Thursday turns off some Americans but no doubt there will be those who will line up early and rush in when the doors open on Thanksgiving evening. Those whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and still live in Plymouth, Massachusetts, are glad that Colonial-era blue laws prohibit retailers from plying their wares on Thanksgiving. They still know this holiday is about giving thanks for all we have.

However, most everywhere else in America, stores will fling open their door and move out of the way for their shoppers galore while letting commerce invade what used to be such an enjoyable and restful holiday.

So much for peace and quiet.

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

A Time for Change (Please Read this with Your Family & Friends on this Thanksgiving Holiday.)

This year Americans will consume:

  • 51 million turkeys, equaling 2,266 Statues of Liberty.
  • Eleven million pounds of potato chips, enough to cover the state of Arizona.
  • And a billion chicken wings that could stretch from Seattle Seahawks’ field to New England’s.

Now, why is it we can’t feed the hungry in America?

Facts according to PEW Research Center:

  • The United States, despite being the richest country in their survey, shows nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) say they had trouble putting food on the table in the past 12 months.
  • This is up from just 16% who reported such deprivation in 2007, the year before the Great Recession began.
  • The American reported poverty level is closer to that experienced by Indonesians and Greeks, than it is the British or the Canadians. In fact, the percentage of Americans who say they could not afford the food needed by their families at some point in the last year is three times more than in Germany, and more than twice in Italy and Canada.

Now, why is it we can’t feed the hungry in America?

More facts according to DoSomething.org

One of the largest organizations for young people and social change

Take action and teach our next generations how important it is to volunteer. Everyone can sign up for a campaign and start contributing to making our world a better place.

  1. 1 in 6 people in America face hunger.
  2. The USDA defines “food insecurity” as the lack of access, at times, to enough food for all household members. Food insecurity exists in every county in America.
  3. More than 18 million households are food insecure, causing more and more people to rely on food banks and pantries.
  4. More than 50 million Americans struggle to put food on the table – if they even have a table to put it on.
  5. In the U.S., hunger is not caused by a lack of food, but rather the continued prevalence of poverty.
  6. More than 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, it is 1 in 3.
  7. Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunches each school day. Less than half of them get breakfast, and only 10% have access to summer meal sites.
  8. For every 100-school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites and just 36 summer food programs.
  9. 1 in 7 people are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly half of them are children.
  10. 40% of food is thrown out in the U.S. every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans, which equates to half of those who are food insecure.
  11. These 8 states have statistically higher food insecurity rates than the U.S. national average (14.6%): Arkansas (21.2%), Mississippi (21.1%), Texas (18.0%), Tennessee (17.4%), North Carolina (17.3%), Missouri (16.9%), Georgia (16.6%), Ohio (16.0%).

Now, why is it we can’t feed the hungry in America?

Written by LuAnn Jalet, Chief Operating Officer

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Sources

Photo: “The UGM Texas BBQ 32” by Glowbal Collection is licenses by CC by 2.0