Thanksgiving: A Weather Holiday!

The "original" Thanksgiving dining table

The above cover photo is the popular painting of the “original feast” as the American colonists honored the Wampanoag Indians in 1619 and again in 1621 for their valuable helping the Pilgrims grow crops and understand the nuances of their new home (dead fish, for instance, makes great manure). Those first feasts included some kind of fowl, possibly turkey, along with a lot of corn and root vegetables. Hardly the throw down we have these days!

"Crops" back in the day were more like gardens of today

In Braving the Elements, a fascinating journey exploring how weather shaped this country, David Laskin points to another reason this big celebration started: Weather. It’s always about weather, isn’t it?

William Bradford governed the Plymouth Plantation back in the day. I won’t quote the whole entry of his, but a terrible hot, drought began the third week of May withering the corn and prompting a day of praying for rain. The praying worked as the rain began that evening and continued to show up into the fall, saving the crops. “For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving”--William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647.

This was in 1623 and there are other accounts earlier of feasts between the Native Americans and Pilgrims perhaps out of appreciation for the gardening tips or just a get to know you dinner. Thus, the long debate about whether Thanksgiving started as a gathering to thank each other or a more religious festival thanking God for the crops.

Ironically, our Thanksgiving in Southeast Texas tomorrow will have plenty of not sought after showers. Here’s the HRRR model for the morning and into the afternoon as we look for an easy 1-2″ of rain:

11AM Radar

We’re not expecting severe weather but plan on extra time if you’re traveling tomorrow!

And enjoy the day, no matter how we got to this celebration, it’s important to count our blessings.

Time to Eat!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.