Pass the stuffing, please.

by Philina Richardson

Next week, Americans will celebrate the annual holiday known as Thanksgiving. You may (or may not) be looking forward to the brief respite before finals, but do you know what is behind the holiday?

  • Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, celebrated by the religious and secular alike (Baker and Baker, 2003).
  • The first Thanksgiving was probably celebrated in 1621 at Plymouth after a difficult winter. The European settlers were joined in their feast by members of the Wampanoag tribe (Thanksgiving, 2013).
  • The first meal probably consisted of wild turkey, goose, duck, venison, root vegetables, and pumpkin dishes (Baker and Baker, 2003). In recent years, other dishes have become Thanksgiving staples, including: green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potato dishes, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.
  • The first official national Thanksgiving was proclaimed by George Washington in 1789 (Thanksgiving, 2013).
  • In 1941, the official date for Thanksgiving was set by Congress as the 4th Thursday in November (Thanksgiving, 2013).
  • Our Canadian neighbors also celebrate Thanksgiving.  In Canada, Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October (Thanksgiving, 2013).
  • Most Americans celebrate this holiday by spending time with their loved ones, enjoying a meal of traditional Thanksgiving foods, and activities such as football and shopping (the day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday,” and kicks off the Christmas shopping season).
  • In 2013, an estimated 43.3 million people traveled 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving, and in total, 94.5 million people traveled 50 miles or more during the holiday season (Hunter, 2013).

Do you want to get in on the Thanksgiving goodness without cooking a whole turkey? Panther Dining will be hosting a special Thanksgiving luncheon todayNovember 20 from 10:45am to 1:45pm. The links above will also direct you to traditional recipes that are easy to make for smaller gatherings.
Do you want to do some of your own research on Thanksgiving? Credo Reference and Gale Virtual Reference Library are great places to start.



Baker, J.W. & Baker, P.M. (2003). “Thanksgiving.”  In Encyclopedia of Food and Culture Retrieved from|CX3403400571&v=2.1&u=melb26933&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w&asid=0fb9abf7c283ec351bd8171f857a979d

Hunter, H. (2013). “AAA: 43.4 Million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving, a slight decline from last year.” Retrieved from

Thanksgiving day. (2013). In The Columbia Encyclopedia. Retrieved from


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