Good Old Days Newsletter
|In the Good Old Days||'Til Next Time|
#1. Which of the following were approved table manners at the first Thanksgiving:
a) To eat with your hands
#2. I have been trying to remember a song that my mother sang to me when I was little. The only verse I know is: "A tiny turned-up nose, Two cheeks just like a rose, That little girl of mine." -- Carolyn B.
When I was a youngster, I had a terrible time remembering if Thanksgiving fell on the fourth Thursday of November or the last Thursday of November. I still have to look at the calendar if there are five Thursdays in the month, like in November of this year.
You might think that's silly, but hear me out.
Thanksgiving commemorates the feast set by the pilgrims for the survivors of the first year at the Plymouth colony and their new friends, the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans. We don't know the date of that first Thanksgiving, which actually lasted three days. AmericanHistory.about.com says the date could have been between September 21 and November 9. To view that information, click here.
We do know the feast occurred before Dec. 12, 1621, because we have a letter written from Edward Winslow, one of the settlers, to a friend in England describing the colony and its festive observance earlier in the autumn. You can read the entire context of that letter by clicking here.
Abraham Lincoln made the first presidential proclamation of Thanksgiving Day in 1863, occurring on the last Thursday of November. That's how the Thanksgiving holiday traditionally came to be observed, but it was proclaimed so each year by the sitting president.
Then came the Great Depression and the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1939, the last Thursday fell on November 30. Retailers, already hit hard by the Depression, petitioned FDR to move Thanksgiving from its traditional observance on the last Thursday of the month to the fourth Thursday. They noted that, without such a move, there would only be 24 shopping days from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas -- and they needed all the business they could muster.
This wasn't the first time such a request had been made of President Roosevelt. Thanksgiving 1933 had likewise fallen on November 30, but FDR had refused to alter the traditional date. But in 1939, he acquiesced and proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be observed on the federal level on November 23 of that year.
Of course, this sent shock waves through the country. While it did, indeed, give stores an extra week of sales before Christmas, many Americans were miffed at the change. Also, many states didn't change the date, and many businesses didn't either. Some families were caught in between, with some family members getting November 23 off from work while others were granted holiday leave a week later.
Shelby O. Bennett of Shinnston, W.Va., was among those who wrote to FDR, protesting the change. Satirically, on Aug. 15, 1939, he wrote:
I see by the paper this morning where you want to change Thanksgiving Day to November 23 of which I heartily approve. Thanks.
Now, there are some things that I would like done and would appreciate your approval:
- Have Sunday changed to Wednesday;
- Have Mondays to be Christmas;
- Have it strictly against the Will of God to work on Tuesday;
- Have Thursday to be Pay Day with time and one-half for overtime;
- Require everyone to take Friday and Saturday off for a fishing trip down the Potomac.
With these in view and hoping you will give me some consideration at your next Congress, I remain,
Yours very truly,
Shelby O. Bennett
Public outcry didn't deter the president. Then, on Dec. 26, 1941, Congress passed a law decreeing the observance of Thanksgiving to always be on the fourth Thursday of November. So, when five Thursdays happened again in 1944, there was no confusion.
But, at least for me, every time the question comes up -- "Is Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday or the last Thursday of November?" -- I have to consult a calendar. Just a bit of confusion left for some of us from the day.
#1. The answer is D. All of these were OK in pilgrim days of the first Thanksgiving. I got this from a Thanksgiving trivia quiz on the Brownielocks.com website. If you would like to take the entire quiz, it's a lot of fun. Click here to navigate to that site.
#2. I have seen many variations of the words to That Little Girl of Mine. In fact, the song has a male counterpart: That Little Boy of Mine. Here is part of the words of one variation of the song: