Life Day 24245: Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Today is Thursday, November 28, 2013. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Obviously, the featured holiday today is:

Thanksgiving Day:

Tucked snugly between the two mega-holidays of Halloween and Christmas, is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving gets less attention, but it is still an important holiday to many. It is a time to gather family and friends together and give thanks for the blessings you recieved during the year.

Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has been an annual tradition since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26. As a federal and public holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. Together with Christmas and New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans (as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow) and 53 Pilgrims. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought. Other countries observe similar days of “thanksgiving” on different dates throughout the year; for instance, Canada celebrates their “Thanksgiving” on the second Monday in October. This article in Wikipedia will give you more information about Thanksgiving celebrations in other countries.

As mentioned above, since 1863, Thanksgiving here in America has been celebrated on the final Thursday in November. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt broke with tradition and declared that Thanksgiving be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. That year, November had five Thursdays (instead of the more-common four), and Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression. At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. Fred Lazarus, Jr., founder of the Federated Department Stores (later Macy’s), is credited with convincing Roosevelt to push Thanksgiving to a week earlier to expand the shopping season, and within two years the change passed through Congress into law.

Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln. People began referring to November 30 as the “Republican Thanksgiving” and November 23 as the “Democratic Thanksgiving” or “Franksgiving”. Regardless of the politics, many localities had made a tradition of celebrating on the last Thursday, and many football teams had a tradition of playing their final games of the season on Thanksgiving; with their schedules set well in advance, they could not change. Since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, Roosevelt’s change was widely disregarded. Twenty-three states went along with Roosevelt’s recommendation, twenty-two did not, and some, like Texas, could not decide and took both days as government holidays. In 1940 and 1941, years in which November had four Thursdays, Roosevelt declared the third one as Thanksgiving. As in 1939, some states went along with the change while others retained the traditional last-Thursday date. On October 6, 1941, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution fixing the traditional last-Thursday date for the holiday beginning in 1942. However, in December of that year the Senate passed an amendment to the resolution that split the difference by requiring that Thanksgiving be observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November, which was sometimes the last Thursday and sometimes (less frequently) the next to last. The amendment also passed the House, and on December 26, 1941 President Roosevelt signed this bill, for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law and fixing the day as the fourth Thursday of November. However, for several years some states continued to observe the last-Thursday date in years with five November Thursdays (the next such year being 1944), with Texas doing so as late as 1956.

Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys, in a ceremony known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. President John F. Kennedy was the first president reported to spare the turkey given to him (he was dissatisfied with the turkey’s size and asked to “let this one grow”), and Ronald Reagan was the first to grant the turkey a presidential pardon, which he jokingly presented to his 1987 turkey (a turkey that would indeed be spared and sent to a petting zoo) in order to deflect questions regarding the Iran–Contra affair. George H. W. Bush, who served as vice president under Reagan, made the turkey pardon a permanent annual tradition upon assuming the presidency in 1989, a tradition that has been carried on by every president each year since. The pardoned turkeys are typically sent to a farm to be pampered for the remainder of their lives (a time scale typically on the order of months, since most domestic turkeys have been bred to grow so much that they die within two years of birth). There are legends that say that the “pardoning” tradition dates to the Harry Truman administration or even to an anecdote of Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son’s pet turkey; both stories have been quoted in more recent presidential speeches, but neither has any evidence in the Presidential record. In more recent years, two turkeys have been pardoned, in case the original turkey becomes unavailable for presidential pardoning.

The other holidays today are:

Hanukkah (or Chanukkah):

Hanukkah,  also known as the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra branch is called a shamash  and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for practical use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves for purposes other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah is forbidden.

In modern Western culture, Hanukkah is often mistakenly referred to as “Jewish Christmas” because the celebration traditionally falls in the same time frame as Christmas each year. In actuality, Hanukkah has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.

Thanksgivukkah:

This year, something very rare is occurring. Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkhah coincide. This has led to the creation of a pop-culture portmanteau neologism, Thanksgivukkah (combining the words Thanksgiving and Hanukkah). The last time this occurred was in 1888, and the next time it will occur won’t be until the year 79811. So, unless you are a vampire, this is truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. To find out why this is such a rare occurrence read this article in Wikipedia.

National Day of Mourning:

The National Day of Mourning is an annual protest organized since 1970 by Native Americans of New England on the fourth Thursday of November, the same day as Thanksgiving in the United States. It coincides with an unrelated but similar protest, Unthanksgiving Day, held on the West Coast. Since 1921, the 300th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has staged an annual reenactment of Thanksgiving. People gather at a church on the site of the Pilgrims’ original meeting house, in 17th century costume. After prayers and a sermon, they march to Plymouth Rock. This annual event had become a tourist attraction.

On the 350th anniversary, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts planned to celebrate friendly relations between English ancestors and the Wampanoag, the native tribe of the region. Wampanoag leader Frank James, also known as Wamsutta, was invited to make a speech at the celebration. But, when the anniversary planners reviewed his speech in advance, they decided it was not appropriate for the celebration. The reason given was, “…the theme of the anniversary celebration is brotherhood and anything inflammatory would have been out of place.”

Wamsutta based his speech upon a Pilgrim’s account of the first year on Indian land. The book recounted the opening of graves, taking the Indians’ corn and bean supplies, and selling Wampanoag as slaves for 220 shillings each. After receiving a revised speech, written by a public relations person, Wamsutta decided he would not attend the celebration. To protest the silencing of the American Indian people, he and his supporters went to neighboring Cole’s Hill, near the statue of Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag when the Pilgrims landed. Overlooking the Plymouth Harbour and the Mayflower replica, Wamsutta gave his speech. This was the first National Day of Mourning. Since then, it has become an annual tradition to protest the Thanksgiving event to bring light to the abysmal treatment of native Americans by the colonists.

Turkey-free Thanksgiving:

While the turkey sits center stage at the traditional Thanksgiving feast, vegetarians must decide whether to mimic the bird or replace it with a meatless main dish. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, search “Turkey-free Thanksgiving”. A variety of websites will appear offering alternatives to the traditional turkey main course.

Red Planet Day:

The planet Mars is referred to as the “Red Planet” because it appears red in color. Red Planet Day honors our celestial neighbor, the fourth planet in the solar system. But, is Mars truly red in color? Scientists debated this question, even after the Mars Rovers landed and began to explore the planet. Why? Because the lenses used to take photos are tinted. On Red Planet Day, take a few minutes to look upwards into the sky, and gaze at our neighbor. Hopefully, you will have a cloudless night sky for viewing. You can also recognize this holiday by reading up about Mars, and viewing pictures of it. There are plenty of pictures online.

Red Planet Day commemorates the launch of the Spacecraft Mariner 4 on November 28,1964. The 228 day mission of Mariner 4 brought the spacecraft within 6,118 miles of Mars on July 14, 1965.

Because of its proximity to Earth, there is much debate about whether or not life ever existed on mars. Marvin the Martian, Bugs Bunny’s nemesis in a number Warner Brother’s cartoons, weighs in on the ‘yes’ side of the argument, and will “scrooch” you if you disagree.

Mars facts and trivia:

*Mars is the fourth Planet from the Sun.
*Mars gets it’s name from the Greek word “Ares”, the God of War *Mars is often visible to the naked eye in the night sky.
* The distance of Mars from the Sun averages 136,764,000 miles.
*Mars’ rotation around the Sun takes 687 Earth days.
*Mars’ rotation period: 1.026 Earth days.
* Mars’ gravity is 1/3 that of Earth.
*Mars is the 7th largest planet, about 1/10th the mass of Earth.
*Mars has no Moons.
*Mars’  temperature range is -207 to +81 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make Your Own Head Day:

Well, this holiday makes no sense to me. I think whomever created this holiday was prematurely dipping into the holiday eggnog. From what I gather from my sources, you are supposed to make a piece of art in your own image.

Aside from the literal translation, this holiday could also mean that you should make up your own mind, take some time for self-reflection, or just be yourself. Stop trying to wear someone else’s hat if it doesn’t fit. Or, perhaps this holiday is about your perception of yourself; in other words, how you see yourself as compared to what others see. I just don’t know. There was an interesting video on YouTube a couple of months back where a forensic artist drew a picture of a group of women according to the way they described themselves, then drew another picture of that person according to the way another person described them. The artist was behind a curtain and couldn’t see the subject. The results were surprising.

If you decide to literally “make your own head”, you can use any medium you desire; pencil, ink, watercolor, paint, charcoal, crayon, clay, bronze or even aluminum foil. Just don’t use the leftover mashed potatoes from your Thanksgiving feast. You don’t want to terrify the kids when they open the refrigerator in the morning to get milk for their cereal.

National French Toast Day:

French toast is the perfect way to start or end your day. Although it is typically made with bread, milk, and eggs, and then topped with delicious maple syrup, many variations of this classic breakfast can be found around the world.

The origin of French toast is unknown, but recipes date back to the sixteenth century in Europe. Prior to the Hundred Years War, French toast was known in England as “poor knight’s pudding” because it was a simple and inexpensive dish that a knight with no money could afford. In France, it was called “pan perdu” or lost bread, because it was a way of using lost or stale bread. Treat your family to some French toast this morning. Just don’t forget to save some room for the turkey later.

On this date in:

1520 – Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean after passing through the South American strait. The strait was named after him. He was the first European to sail the Pacific from the east.

1919 – American-born Lady Astor was elected the first female member of the British Parliament.

1922 – Capt. Cyril Turner of the Royal Air Force gave the first public exhibition of skywriting. He spelled out, “Hello USA. Call Vanderbilt 7200” over New York’s Times Square.

1925 – The Grand Ole Opry made its radio debut on station WSM. 1

934 – The U.S. bank robber George “Baby Face” Nelson was killed by FBI agents near Barrington, IL.

1942 – A fire destroyed the Coconut Grove in Boston. 491 people died in that fire.

1943 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to map out strategy concerning World War II.

1953 – New York City began 11 days without newspapers due to a strike of photoengravers.

1958 – The African nation of Chad became an autonomous republic within the French community.

1963 – U.S. President Johnson announced that Cape Canaveral would be renamed Cape Kennedy in honor of his assassinated predecessor. The name was changed back to Cape Canaveral in 1973 by a vote of residents.

1977 – Larry Bird was introduced as “College Basketball’s Secret Weapon” with a cover story in Sports Illustrated.

1978 – The Iranian government banned religious marches. 1979 – An Air New Zealand DC-10 flying to the South Pole crashed in Antarctica killing all 257 people aboard.

1983 – The space shuttle Columbia took off with the STS-9 Spacelab in its cargo bay.

1985 – The Irish Senate approved the Anglo-Irish accord concerning Northern Ireland.

1987 – A South African Airways Boeing 747 crashed into the Indian Ocean. All 159 people aboard were killed.

1989 – Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci arrived in New York after escaping her homeland through Hungary.

1990 – Margaret Thatcher resigned as prime minister of Britain.

1992 – In Bosnia-Herzegovina, 137 tons of food and supplies were to be delivered to the isolated town of Srebrenica.

1992 – In King William’s Town, South Africa, black militant gunmen attacked a country club killing four people and injuring 20.

1994 – Jeffrey Dahmer, a convicted serial killer, was clubbed to death in a Wisconsin prison by a fellow inmate.

1994 – Norwegian voters rejected European Union membership.

1995 – U.S. President Clinton signed a $6 billion road bill that ended the federal 55 mph speed limit.

2010 – WikiLeaks released to the public more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. About 100,000 were marked “secret” or “confidential.”

Noteworthy Birthdays:

John Bunyan 1628 – Preacher, author.

Jean Baptiste Lully 1632 – Composer.

William Blake 1757 – Poet, painter.

William Stanley 1858 – Physicist.

Brooks Atkinson 1894 – Theatre critic.

José Iturbi 1895 – Conductor, pianist, harpsichordist.

Charles Alston 1907 – Artist.

Dick Vance 1915 – Trumpeter, arranger.

Wes Westrum 1922 – Baseball catcher, coach, manager.

Gloria Grahame 1923 – Actress.

Berry Gordy, Jr. 1929 – Motown mogul.

Hope Lange 1933 – Actress.

Ethel Ennis 1934 – Jazz pianist.

Gary Hart 1936 – Politician, lawyer.

Michael Ritchie 1938 – Director.

Gary Troxel (The Fleetwoods) 1939 – Musician. (The Fleetwoods)

Bruce Channel 1940 – Singer.

Paul Warfield 1942 – Football wide receiver.

Randy Newman 1943 – Singer, songwriter.

R.B. Greaves 1945 – Singer.

Joe Dante 1946 – Director.

Vern Den Herder 1948 – Football defensive end and nose tackle.

Beeb Birtles 1948 – Musician. (The Little River Band)

Paul Shaffer 1949 – Band leader.

Alexander Godunov 1949 – Dancer, actor.

Ed Harris 1950 – Actor.

Judd Nelson 1959 – Actor.

Jon Stewart 1965 – Political satirist.

Anna Nicole Smith 1967 – Stripper, gold digger.

Matt Cameron 1962 – Musician. (Soundgarden)

Roy Tarpley 1964 – Basketball power forward.

Dawn Robinson 1968 – Musician. (En Vogue)

Scarlett Pomers 1988 – Actress, singer.

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