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HOLIDAYS OVER THE DECADES
A 1970s THANKSGIVING
National Family Week Will Accent Thanksgiving Tradition
Signed by President Ford on April 19, 1976. the congressional joint resolution authorized the chief executive to "issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on November 21, 1976, as 'National Family Week,' " and invites "the Governors of the several states, the chief officials of local governments, and the people of the United States to observe such days with appropriate ceremonies and activities."
Thanksgiving and family are two words that have become inseparably linked ever since this - rich tradition began with the pilgrims 355 years ago in December 1621.
"Thanksgiving is the oldest and most truly American of our national holidays," contended Ralph Linton, renowned American anthropologist. "It has changed less in its intention and in the manner of its celebration than any other of our holidays, national or international. The founders of America had never heard of most of the things we now do at Christmas or Easter, but Thanksgiving is still very much what the Pilgrims made it - A giving of thanks for divine bounty coupled with a practical demonstration of that bounty."
"Thanksgiving, even more than Christmas, is the holiday which brings scattered kindred together," he continued "Old family jokes and stones are shared and for a little while all hands bask in a sense of belonging to an intimate, affectionate group. They may go back to their separate homes later, but for a while they have been part of something larger than themselves"
When they paused to give thanks to the Almighty for deliverance from difficult hardships in a strange new land, the Pilgrims were carrying on a tradition that dates back to ancient Biblical times. The Israelites customarily set aside days for general expressions of Thanksgiving. Similar practices persisted through Medieval times, and even through the reformation.
Jewish families settling in New Amsterdam continued the traditional September Siroccos, or feast of booths, a day of Thanksgiving rich in family traditions. Others who first colonized and pioneered to the farthest reaches of America set aside days of Thanksgiving - at various times of the year and for various reasons.
After a bitter four-year struggle, during the Republic's infancy, Congress requested the newly inaugurated President George Washington to proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1879, a national day of Thanksgiving for the nation's newly won independence.
In subsequent years, observance of a Thanksgiving Day was not consistently sustained each year on a national basis, although regional celebrations continued.
To Sara Josepha Buell Hale, author of the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb," goes the credit for reestablishing Thanksgiving Day as a national tradition. Mrs. Hale, widowed mother of five children, sustained her family by serving as editor of "Ladies' Magazine," the first periodical exclusively written for women.
For twenty years she continued her campaign for a national Thanksgiving Day in her editorial pages and through correspondence to governors and other leaders in the nation In the midst of the Civil War, while some members of families were brutally killing one another, she finally persuaded President Abraham Lincoln that a national day of Thanksgiving would bring the American Family together again.
Lincoln issued the long-sought proclamation on October 3, 1863, just one week after his famous Gettysburg address. Since that proclamation, presidents have continued the custom of proclaiming a national day of Thanksgiving, which in 1941 became clearly established as the fourth Thursday in November.
Over the years, Thanksgiving time has come to mean family time more than any other American holiday. Writing for the "Saturday Evening Post" in November 1948, Roger Butterfield noted the remarkable influence that a now famous Courier and Ives lithographic print, "Home to Thanksgiving," had in building Thanksgiving as a traditional time for families together.
Stimulated by this picture of several generations of family gathering at a snow-covered New England farmhouse, and by similar pictures, some. 50,000 New York City residents journeyed home each year to their New England homes and families.
National Family Week in 1976 may well mark the beginning of an important added emphasis to the traditional Thanksgiving link to family life in America. CARIBOU COUNTY SUN, Soda Springs, Idaho, Thursday, November 25, 1976
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