Nations of ancient times have celebrated the end of growing seasons by organizing festivities and thanking nature for its generosity.

Jews and Romans were well known for their “Thanksgiving” celebrations.

The Catholic Church started to celebrate Thanksgiving in the third century A D.

There never was a fixed date for Thanksgiving celebrations since the end of the growing season depends much on geography (in Canada, Thanksgiving season is a statuary holiday. It was declared by the parliament in 1957 on the second Monday of October, whereas in

the U S A Americans celebrate thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November).

In Germany, the Bishops in a conference in 1972 decided on the first Sunday of October.

It is celebrated with parades, and during mass, by displaying fruits, grains, honey, flour, and wine

Well before the white man set foot on the North American continent, First nations (Pueblo, Cherokee, Cree and others organized harvest festivals and ceremonies complete with dances

The first records about organized Thanksgiving celebrations by Europeans date back to 1621, which was organized by the Pilgrims, in Plymouth, Massachusetts to thank God for guiding them safely to the New World. It lasted three days, providing sufficient food for 53 Pilgrims and 90 natives.

Squanto, a Patuxet of the Wampanoag tribe taught Pilgrims how to catch ell, and grow corn.

He functioned as an interpreter as he spoke English that he had learned while enslaved by Europeans and taken to England.

The menu consisted of cod, eel, bass, clams, lobster, mussels, ducks, geese, swans, turkey, venison, berries, fruits, peas, pumpkins, beetroot, wheat products, and wild onions, cooked in a variety of, but simple techniques.

In the USA Thanksgiving was officially declared a statutory holiday in 1863.

In Canada Thanksgiving celebrations can be traced back to Martin Frobisher, and English explorer, in 1578 and then to Samuel de Champlain in 1604 in New France.

The French speaking inhabitant of Canada, who mainly reside in Quebec, Maritime provinces and elsewhere in the country, celebrate in additional fare, along with tourtiere and habitant pea soup.

Elsewhere in Canada, a traditional Thanksgiving menu may consist of roast turkey with giblet gravy, corn on the cob, devilled eggs, beans, bean casseroles, carrots, cornbread, rutabagas, parsnip, mashed potatoes with gravy, apple pie, and mince meat.

Modern small families of today use more duck and geese.

In the USA, the menu is almost the same as given above, but may also contain sweet potato, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and a variety of squashes.

In the 19th century people who could afford, knew about it, and had access to it drank Beaujolais, and when Beaujolais nouveau became popular switched to it, but either one are really inappropriate as they are light and fruity with little depth, but more than anything else ordinary Americans drank Bourbon and beer.

Now people choose from a range of wines, starting with chardonnay, then pinot noir, maybe a cabernet sauvignon or a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot.

A traditional restaurant Thanksgiving prix fixe menu today may consist of:

Corn chowder

Tourtiere or freshly shucked oysters with sauce mignonette , cocktail sauce, or lemon wedges

Roast turkey, giblet gravy
Mashed potatoes, buttered peas and carrots

Pumpkin pie

Coffee or tea

In Canada, big families will serve all the above and many more seasonal dishes along with a sparkling wine as an aperitif, then switch to a chardonnay reserve (maybe from Clos Jordanne, or Closson Chase, or Hidden Bench or Tawse all Ontario wineries), and then continue with a Chianti Classico or Rioja Reserva or pinot noir fro Chateau des Charmes, or Flat Rock both Ontario wineries, and finish with a late harvest riesling or icewine.

Hrayr Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.

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