Thursday, November 22, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving - it's all in the writing!
JAN BROGAN: As some of you may know I'm working on a historical novel and so, I'm a little obsessed with history these days. Still.. I thought on this national day of Thanksgiving, you might be interested to know that if it weren't for another writer -- the holiday might not exist.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I know, it was all the Pilgrim's idea, what with the three day feast with Wampanoag tribe who kindly, if perhaps not wisely, befriended them and showed the colonists how to grow corn and tap maple trees. But that was 1623. It didn't really become any kind of real holiday until New York became the first of several states to adopt it in 1817. But even then, the random states that did celebrate it, celebrated on a different day and the southern states were pretty much in the dark about it.
It wasn't until a noted magazine editor and "prolific writer' Sarah Josepha Hale, who apparently wrote the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (which I had always assumed was British in origin) launched a campaign in 1827 to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. What I find amazing is that she stuck with this mission for THIRTY SIX YEARS. She wrote countless editorials and sent tons of letters to governors, senators, and presidents. It wasn't until 1863 - in the height of the Civil War - that Abraham Lincoln decided she had a good idea. In part to help "heal the wounds of the nation." Thanksgiving became a national holiday, set for the final Thursday in November. Franklin D. Roosevelt would mess with the exact timing a century later.
So when you are giving thanks today, send some to Sarah Josepha Hale's way and when you clink wine glasses today may one of your toasts be to the power and purpose of good writing!
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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
And if you have any good ideas for what to do with leftovers, please add them in the comments page!