The National History of Thanksgiving

Written by Zachery Adam

November 26, 2019

The National History of Thanksgiving

I make no excuses; Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year, and not just for the food. There is so much I’m thankful for, especially my kids, that celebrating in November every year has been a passion of mine for a very long time. Like many people, I’m a transplant to Asheville, but I also feel very connected to our community. So, I thought this year I would like to learn a little bit more about the history of Thanksgiving in our mountains and take a look at some of the local traditions that carry on today.

The National History of Thanksgiving

Today, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, but where did this tradition start? Many harken back to what’s known as the first Thanksgiving, celebrating the story of the Pilgrims’ winter survival with the help of the indigenous people of New England.

It was President Lincoln who first made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. It didn’t settle on the fourth Thursday in November until a congressional proclamation in 1942 after a few years when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved it around. While the holiday has certainly had its religious connotations, today it’s mostly seen as a secular celebration of gratitude and the kick off of the holiday season.

The WNC History of Thanksgiving

As with many holidays, there’s a regional history as well. North Carolina didn’t celebrate the holiday until 1849. The governor at the time, William A. Graham, called on the state legislature to mark the annual observance as “a season for kind, social sentiment—for the forgiveness of injuries—for acts of good neighborhood and especially for the charitable remembrance of the Poor.”

Prior to that, various state politicians called for days of thanksgiving around the calendar as early as June 7th in 1758. Later that same year, Governor Arthur Dobbs proclaimed the first Wednesday in December as a day of Thanksgiving, and the following year he called for it on October 31st.

Local Traditions

Every region of the country, as well as individual families, celebrate Thanksgiving in a very different way. There is often the traditional meal of turkey with all the fixings, but the fixings can vary from place to place. For example, in heavily Italian areas and in close Italian families, pasta is always on the table.

In Western North Carolina, many of our Thanksgiving traditions come from the history of the Appalachians. In one internet poll, the most popular side dish for North Carolina was sweet potato pie. Thanksgiving in the South may also have sides like macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread dressing. 

2019 Thanksgiving Events

If you’re not into cooking the big Thanksgiving meal at home, there are a few places around town where you can get amazing food on Thanksgiving Day. Both the Biltmore and Grove Park Inn offer options, but definitely make reservations in advance.

Pack’s Tavern right downtown will have a Thanksgiving buffet and welcomes walk-ins. Strada Italiano encourages diners to make reservations while next door at The Social Lounge they’ll welcome walk-ins until 8pm.

Many restaurants and businesses will be closed on Thanksgiving, but Friday, Saturday and Sunday are perfect to enjoy winter holiday activities.

At GoPrime of West Asheville, we also want to encourage you to use this time of year to give back. Volunteer where you can. There are always opportunities to give your time, money, and hospitality to others. We encourage you to connect with any one of the amazing organizations in the area to see how you can help.

How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

Do you want to know more about the options you have for your mortgage? Contact Zachery Adam and the team at GoPrime of West Asheville.  Call us today 

 

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