Thanksgiving Traditions

The modern-day Thanksgiving celebration is not much different from what it was when the pilgrims first celebrated a harvest feast on American soil.

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When the Pilgrims first celebrated with a Thanksgiving feast in 1621 it was after a year of famine and hardship that killed nearly half of the settlers. University of Houston Folklorist and English Professor Carl Lindahl says their feast was truly a celebration of the bountiful harvest and health of their second year in America.

Turkey soon became a part of the feast. Wild turkeys were plentiful and the size of the bird allowed it to feed many people. These days most people don't hunt and shoot their own Thanksgiving turkey, the biggest challenge is usually figuring out how to carve the bird.

Turkey has remained the central element of the meal, but Thanksgiving has shifted over the years from a celebration of harvest to a celebration of family. Lindahl says it's no longer an issue of human survival but rather a time for people to reconnect with loved ones.

And even though this is no longer an agrarian society, the main event is still and will always be the Thanksgiving meal.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...