Le présent article a été rédigé par Jacquie Bridonneau, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée prochainement sur ce blog.
This is one of the American legal holidays that always falls on the fourth Thursday in November, one of the most beloved of all, young and old alike, by people of different creeds and customs, taking part together in the festivities of the great American melting pot. The typical Thanksgiving meal usually revolves around an oven-roasted turkey, basted for hours, filling the house with its enchanting smell, served of course with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and for dessert, a pumpkin or mincemeat pie (or actually both if you are lucky!) Nothing really complicated then compared to our fancy French cooking, fairly basic actually you may rightly say, so what is it that makes everyone look forward to Thanksgiving?
And where did Americans get this idea from anyway? It’s actually a great story. Everyone learned in school that the first Americans were the native Indians, and that the country became populated after that, beginning with the “Pilgrims” who fled England for religious freedom. But the north-eastern part of the US has a harsh, continental climate, and things were much tougher than expected. Many didn’t make it, and the first Thanksgiving took place in the fall of 1621, sometime between September 21 and November 11. The remaining Pilgrims were joined by approximately 90 of the local Wampanoag tribe, in celebration of a successful harvest. They certainly feasted on fowl and deer and probably also ate berries, fish, clams, plums, and pumpkins.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789 to be "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer,” for the new nation that was born. This was a bright beginning, but it took the intervention of another outstanding American president, Abraham Lincoln, to make Thanksgiving into a national annual holiday in 1863, on the last Thursday in November.
But this story has another chapter to it, once again involving a famous president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. When he was president in 1939, the last Thursday in November happened to be November 30th; retailers and customers were both concerned that there would not be enough shopping days left until Christmas, and asked him to bump Thanksgiving up a week earlier. He agreed and announced that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on November 23rd, the second to last Thursday of the month. This of course caused total chaos, as schools traditionally had Thanksgiving vacation for children, not to mention the all important American football games planned on that day! States were divided, some choosing to go with FDR, others not to, some taking the best of both worlds with two Thanksgiving days. Finally Congress passed a law in 1941 saying that Thanksgiving would be celebrated every fourth Thursday in November.
This is a nice story, but the real and everlasting magic of Thanksgiving lies in the very essence of the holiday. A family get-together, no strings attached, where people actually take the time to think about all the things they actually are thankful for. Though not a religious holiday, most churches are fuller than usual with people taking the time to attend a ceremony thanking God basically for all the good things in life. And, surrounded by friends or family members, taking the first whiff of that steaming turkey on the platter, looking forward to the upcoming football game, feasting on the left-over’s and kicking off the Christmas shopping season the next day, this certainly is a rare holiday that Americans are lucky to celebrate.
Cranberry sauce – so simple and so delicious! The hardest part is finding the cranberries in France, but frozen ones are just as good, so stock up if you can find some!
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 1 cup (250 mL) water
- 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
Wash the cranberries, boil the water and sugar. Add the cranberries and return to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes. The cranberries will start to pop, and the sauce will automatically thicken. Cool it, and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat and enjoy!