Our rituals act as our stake in the ground of cultural identity. This Thanksgiving of 2020 may become the smallest and quietest of our lives. Our most American of rituals is shared by many people across the country. People as diverse as the landscapes within our borders. Nonetheless, we agree to set aside a day to express gratitude for what we have, even in the midst of a raging pandemic when so many have lost their way of and in life. Our common culture itself appears to be on shifting ground. Yet there seems to be a powerful collective yearning for that which feels wholesome.
Traditions are those ideas, customs and ways of life handed down from ancestors to their descendants. As they roll down through the years, they pick up nuances, distinctions and new elements through the stories told and the people gathered, like a lint roller gathers up the cat hair from your sweater. Sticky stuff traditions.
Many Americans make a traditional turkey as the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving dinner. They have rituals they incorporate into the day, sometimes playing or watching football, sometimes putting puzzles together or playing board games and card games. So one might wonder how the 4th C BC Etruscan ritual of rubbing on the wishbone of a goose to bring good fortune from the Italian peninsula could have become the wishing on a turkey wishbone across our vast continent. Adaptation and incorporation, that’s how. When the Romans took over the Etruscan civilization, they didn’t obliterate, they adapted it, incorporating much of the Etruscan advances into their Roman Empire. When Julius Caesar took Rome rule to Britain, he brought the wishbone ritual with him. However, there weren’t a lot of geese to be had at that point, so the ritual adapted and became breaking the wishbone giving the holder of the larger piece his wish. When British colonists brough the ritual to North America where there were turkeys in great abundance and consequently incorporated.
That same adaptation and incorporation is what many of us will be using to celebrate Thanksgiving this strange year. Though we have booked a family get-together on Zoom with those we were supposed to share the holiday with, it will be a surprise if it is possible for Zoom to manage what is surely to be a continent-wide surge in usage. FaceTime too will stretch the envelope. We adapt and incorporate as we have all always done.
The comfort of traditional foods may soothe the distance of those we’d like to be with but choose to keep safe. In most cases we will be scaling down recipes for smaller numbers. Or we might take advantage of the opportunity to re-invent the holiday table by having some other favorite such as a glazed ham or a roast duck. Whichever your choice, it will be worth your while to browse our website http://www.litchfieldfarmersmarket.org/ where you will find dozens and dozens of Thanksgiving recipes which include but are certainly not limited to:
For today recipe we are adding Cranberry Sauce with Port and Cinnamon for a fresh easy condiment to complement your dinner.