Thanksgiving in the United States is a family holiday that is usually celebrated with a huge Turkey Dinner. Although Thanksgiving Celebrations occurred sporadically since the Pilgrims first Thanksgiving, it wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be the official National Holiday.
In 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November to be the official Thanksgiving Holiday. Before 1939, it was on the last Thursday in November and it was suggested to him, that if it was officially on the fourth Thursday there would be more time for Holiday Shopping and thus help to improve the economy which at that time was not very good due to the Great Depression.
The history of Thanksgiving in the United States goes back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, but the actual tradition goes back to ancient times to the Druids in Ireland. Societies all over the world and back into prehistoric times have always given thanks for a good harvest. In Jewish tradition, Sukkoth is celebrated shortly after the Jewish New Year.
Our tradition of Turkey dinner goes back to the first dinner that the Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians. Wild turkeys were plentiful at that time and that was one of the many protein foods that were eaten during the first Thanksgiving. Most of us have our family traditions which include not only Turkey but Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin and Cranberries. Even though most of us will probably have the traditional turkey and dressing some of you may like to make it a little different this year.
This year, for the first time in 125 years (the last event like this was in 1888) the first day of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving. Because of this dual event, many families will be celebrating both holidays with food that may be somewhat untraditional for both holidays.
In our family, Sweet Potato Latkes (pancakes) are going to replace our usual Sweet Potato Casserole which is really very good. What I am going to do is take the flavors from our usual casserole and incorporate them into the Latkes. Other families will probably make the traditional Potato Latkes, but we do like our Mashed Potatoes and Gravy on Thanksgiving. Pictured below are Apple Latkes; the shape and texture are the same as Sweet Potato but the color is different. The method of making is the same.
Most of the recipes featured here are traditional, but with a slightly different twist from the original. The traditional Roast Turkey is on the menu but with a not so traditional Curried Fruit Dressing. Instead of candied yams try a Golden Squash Jubilee made with banana squash and dried apricots; for color contrast make fresh Creamed Spinach in minutes with the aid of your Food Processor and Microwave Oven. For the bread make Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits and instead of Pumpkin Pie, try a French Apple Tart made in a Pecan Crust.
You have all the traditional items in this menu, but made just a little differently for a surprising taste twist. The turkey is present with a traditional bread stuffing made not so traditional by the addition of dried fruit and curry powder. The orange vegetable in the form of squash (yams or pumpkin may be substituted) are present and so is the traditional pumpkin, but in the form of biscuits. The Thanksgiving pie is also present but made with apples, a fruit favored by more people than pumpkin. Add your own choice of appetizer and condiments and you will have a Thanksgiving feast that your family and guests will not only remember for years, but will request repeats of, over and over again.
Cinnamon/Vanilla Cranberry Sauce