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HOME > ARTICLES > NOVEMBER 2002 #2

THANKSGIVING

by Jeannine Coup

We celebrate Thanksgiving Day in November. However, we do not know precisely when the Pilgrims celebrated since none of the surviving records say anything more than "in the autumn of 1621." It was not firmly fixed as a fall festival until much later. The first Thanksgiving celebrations were not just about the family but more like a large community picnic which lasted about a week. This was not a religious occasion but used for recreation and feasting.

Today when you think of Thanksgiving you naturally thank about turkeys. The wild turkey is native to America. Fossils show that turkeys have been living here for 10 million years. The indians in Mexico tamed turkeys and Spanish explorers transported them to Europe where they became a popular meat. At one time thousands of flocks of turkeys, 50 60 200 strong, roamed America. They were never over hunted by Native Americans but became an important food to the settlers. The birds lost their forest habitat when settlers cleared the land for farms and towns. They almost became extinct. Hunting laws were passed to limit the number killed. This time the effort to save a near extinct animal worked, turkeys now live in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.

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