En France, there is no national Day of Thanksgiving as celebrated aux États-Unis ou au Canada, though, as anyone familiar avec la belle France knows, there are plenty enough other holidays! So on this last jeudi de novembre, Louis la Vache will take his readers de France en Amérique-Nord for a little histoire de la Fête de l'Action de grâce both aux États-Unis et au Canada. Louis la Vache gives a big tip of his chapeau to Canadian readers Bill and Brenda for providing Louis with information on the holiday au Canada.
"Thanksgiving is a remnant of the harvest festival celebrated in England. Its connections with the Puritans are, in my opinion, rather suspect, though the story of Indians and Puritans sitting down together at what would fundamentally be a pagan feast seems a little far fetched to me, but unlikely enough to actually be true. Thanksgiving is not considered to be an important "religious" holiday in Canada, not like Easter or Epiphany (12th night) for instance.
Okay we are agreed that it is to celebrate harvest. Yay! Now as to WHEN. Well, the day has always been in October for the English, but when you damyankees decided to rebel, you just had to do things your own way. You started dropping the "u" out of perfectly good words like "colour" and "flavour", and generally just doing things your own way. You got rid of
your kings, governors and such in favor of your own "royalty", usually in the form of a President and his staff. They decided the dates for major secular holidays. In fact, it wasn't until the middle of the Second World War that the date was finally settled in the US, though of course it has remained unchanged in Canada since 1867, though of course the first
Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated in 1578 by Martin Frobisher."
Bill continues: "The following is from the Wikipedia.....
'Eventually in 1879, the Canadian Parliament declared November 6th a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday in Canada. Over the years many dates were used for Thanksgiving, the most popular being the third Monday in October. After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays, and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.
On January 31st, 1957, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed:
"A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ... to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October."
The first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872 to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness. Before then, thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but did not occur every year. Starting in 1879 Thanksgiving Day was observed every year but the date was proclaimed annually and changed year to year. The theme of the Thanksgiving holiday also changed year to year to reflect an important event to be thankful for. In the early years it was for an abundant harvest and occasionally for a special anniversary. After the First World War it was for Armistice Day, while more recently and including today it has been a day of general thanksgiving.'
"More information from the official government of Canada web site here. Here you will see that Thanksgiving is an event declared by the government for many reasons....perhaps more than once in a year. Particularly poignant is the notation about the ending of the quarantine on Grosse Isle. And also that often Armistice Day (what you call Veterans day in the U.S.) was often the same as a general Thanksgiving Day. Eventually, they were separated by law.
Now of course, television sports scheduling dictates when holidays will be declared. In Quebec it is called Thanksgiving (Fête de l'Action de grâce) In Canada, Thanksgiving is a three-day weekend (although some provinces choose to observe a four day weekend, Friday–Monday)."
While the actual Thanksgiving holiday is on a Monday, Canadians might eat their Thanksgiving meal on any day of that three day weekend. This often means celebrating a meal with one group of relatives on one day, and another meal with a different group of relatives on another day. Though in English Canada Thanksgiving is often celebrated with family, it is also often a time for weekend getaways for couples to observe the fall leaves, the last weekend at the cottage or involves various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and hunting. The holiday is not as significant a family occasion amongst French Canadians, however."
"Cut and paste from Everything2.com follows below:"
'On October 13, 1777, to celebrate thanks for both the recent victory at Saratoga for the American Revolution, and for more traditional reasons to give thanks, all 13 colonies celebrated a day of thanks.
George Washington himself declared a national day of thanksgiving, though there was not a lot of support for the idea of thanksgiving as a national holiday. In fact, Thomas Jefferson himself disagreed with the idea.
In 1817, the state of New York adopted a Thanksgiving Day holiday. And by the middle of the century, many other states had done the same. Finally, in 1863, after years of the cause being championed by Sarah Josepha Hale, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November a national day of Thanksgiving. For a while, each successive president would make the same declaration, though a few presidents did choose a different date. Franklin Roosevelt set it as the next-to-last Thursday, to try and create a longer shopping season for Christmas. People were very unhappy with the change, and it was returned to the last Thursday.
In 1941, Congress decided to sanction the holiday. No longer did each president have to declare it. It was fixed as the fourth Thursday in November.'
En Paris aujourd'hui, many américain ex-pats will be found in the IV ème arrondissement sur la rue Saint-Paul having Thanksgiving dinner at the Louisiana Restaurant, mangeant comme des vaches on a typical Louisiana Thanksgiving feast.
OK, now that Louis's friends in Canada have done his homework for him, Louis will apologize to his readers au Canada for not getting the information about their Thanksgiving up on the blog in a more timely manner, and now will segue into the feast portion of la fête. To assuage your guilt over mangeant comme une vache (see sidebar story), here are some NUTRITION FACTS about your Thanksgiving meal!
La dinde / the Turkey
Skinless turkey provides ample protein with very little fat. It's also a good source of several B-vitamins and selenium.
Turkey breast without skin - 153 calories, 1 gram fat
Turkey breast with skin - 214 calories, 8 grams fat
Dark meat without skin - 211 calories, 8 grams fat
Dark meat with skin - 250 calories, 13 grams fat
Turkey wing with skin - 235 calories , 11 grams fat
Sweet potatoes are nutritional powerhouses. They're an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
A half-cup of fresh cranberries provides 10% of the daily value for vitamin C. What's more, according to the largest USDA study on antioxidant rich foods, cranberries ranked #6!
Louis found the following about Cranberries at Yahoo!:
"Cranberries are among the top foods with proven health benefits, according to Amy Howell, a researcher at Rutgers University.
Cranberries are full of antioxidants, which protects cells from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals.
The National Institutes of Health is funding research on the cranberry's effects on heart disease, yeast infections and other conditions, and other researchers are investigating its potential against cancer, stroke and viral infections.
So far, research has found:
• Drinking cranberry juice can block urinary infections by binding to bacteria so they can't adhere to cell walls.
• A compound Howell discovered in cranberries, proanthocyanidine, prevents plaque formation on teeth; mouthwashes containing it are being developed to prevent periodontal disease.
• In some people, regular cranberry juice consumption for months can kill the H. pylori bacteria, which can cause stomach cancer and ulcers.
Preliminary research also shows:
• Drinking cranberry juice daily may increase levels of HDL, or good cholesterol and reduce levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol.
• Cranberries may prevent tumors from growing rapidly or starting in the first place.
• Extracts of chemicals in cranberries prevent breast cancer cells from multiplying in a test tube; whether that would work in women is unknown."
Homemade Apple Pie
One medium-sized apple contains only 80 calories and has zero grams of fat. Plus, they are a good source of fiber -- specifically soluble fiber -- the type that stabilizes your blood sugar levels and helps lower bad cholesterol.
Fresh pecans play a starring role in this delicious dessert. Pecans provide a good source of heart-healthy fat (they contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), along with some fiber, vitamin E, and zinc. They ranked #14 in the USDA's study on antioxidant rich foods.
Pumpkin, a type of winter squash, is naturally fat free and packs only 30 calories per one-cup serving (of course, that's plain unadulterated pumpkin!). Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber, beta carotene, potassium, and two antioxidants called lutein and beta-cryptoxanthin. Lutein helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration and beta-cryptoxanthin helps fight arthritis.
A half-cup of plain chestnuts provides about 150 calories with only 1 gram of fat. They're a great source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber (5 grams per half-cup!).
Louis will now give you his own menu et recettes pour la Fête de l'Action de grâce. Louis doesn't call for chestnuts or for pecan or apple pie, but will use the pumpkin tarte he recently gave you in his menu and Louis will use pecans in his haricots-verts, patates sucrées and in his stuffing pour la dinde. After having lived in France for a while, Louis notes that chestnuts are far more popular en France and are eaten in many ways not common aux États-Unis where they are usually used only as an ingredient in stuffing, and then mostly in the northern and northeastern states.
This being The Frog Blog, we will have to mix a bit of les cultures françaises et américaines with our menu pour la Fête de l'Action de grâce.
In France, even with the lamentable "McDonaldization" of the diet, the meal is still a time of celebration. The meal isn't just about eating. It is a time for conversation, companionship and togetherness. This time for togetherness has been lost in la culture américaine. Les américains rush to eat, then rush off to do something else - all to often (in the view of Louis la Vache) that something else is to watch television. Les américains really only sit at a table and converse three times a year - Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In France, a meal for une fête can last for hours. Les français savor the time together as much as the food.
A meal for une fête will typically begin with l'apéritif, which often includes an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices and may include some choices of alcoholic beverages. In France, the stores carry fruit and vegetable juices and blends that are unknown aux États-Unis, and that's a pity because there are some fantastic combinations available in France. L'apéritif will include things to eat such as salted nuts, olives and perhaps some small sausages and cuts purchased from the charcuterie. No one eats or drinks too much during l'apéritif, because everyone knows much more is to follow! L'apéritif is served in the living room. Afterwards, the party moves to the dining table.
Aux États-Unis, the salad is served first. En France, la salade is not served until after the main course and usually is served with the cheese course. En France la salade is simple - usually just a head of a leafy laitue such as what is called "butter lettuce" aux États-Unis and is dressed with a simple vinaigrette. The menu Louis offers you today is a mix of les cuisines françaises et américaines.
(Cliquez pour agrandir)
When he was growing up in Texas, Louis la Vache's mother usually would include Coconut Chess Pie and Mocha Crème Pecan Torte in the choices for dessert on her Thanksgivng table. Yum!
Well, enough histoire... Alors!
Le menu de Louis la Vache pour la Fête de l'Action de grâce
(Click on the underlined items below pour les recettes)
L'apéritif (as discussed above)
Soupe Crème des Champignons
Dinde rôtie avec herbes de provence
Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Apples and Pecans (using the recette Louis's mother used in Texas for cornbread)
La salade et la plat des fromages (If you are inviting Louis la Vache, he would be pleased if you included Pont l'Évêque a rich ripened cheese from Louis's ancestral Normandie.)
Tartlettes aux citron et canneberge
Tarte à la Citrouille et à la Crème Fraîche
This article is also posted at The Frog Blog of Louis la Vache.
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