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“The Great National ‘Franksgiving’ Uproar”: Imagine The Reaction If Obama Used An Executive Order To Change Date Of A Major Holiday

The story of Franklin Roosevelt moving Thanksgiving is probably pretty well known, but with the holiday coming up tomorrow, and with the ongoing debate about executive powers apparently fresh on the political world’s mind, it’s probably worth a trip down memory lane.

Historically, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the final Thursday of November. But in 1939, with the nation still dealing with the effects of the Great Depression and the unemployment rate above 15%, there was a small problem with the calendar: Thanksgiving fell on Nov. 30.

This may not sound especially important, but for businesses relying on holiday sales, this was a threat to bottom lines – it shortened the number of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Business owners, pointing to the weak economy, demanded action.

And FDR delivered, issuing an executive order that moved the official date of Thanksgiving up a week, from Nov. 30 to Nov. 23. As Andrew Prokop explained, this really didn’t go over well.

What may have seemed like a wonkish, technocratic, good-government policy clashed with what turned out to be deeply-ingrained feelings among many Americans about when Thanksgiving should be celebrated. The Associated Press story announcing the move said Roosevelt “was shattering another precedent,” and quoted a town official of Plymouth, Massachusetts saying the traditional date was “sacred.” […]

Republicans pounced, and used the move to portray Roosevelt as a power-mad tyrant. In an early example of Godwin’s Law, FDR’s recent presidential opponent Alf Landon said Roosevelt sprung his decision on “an unprepared country with the omnipotence of a Hitler.” Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire suggested that while Roosevelt was at it, he should abolish winter.

One Republican mayor labeled the new date “Franksgiving.” Extending the protest further, roughly half the states chose to honor the old date rather than the new one.

The date then bounced around for a couple of years, until Congress eventually passed a new law, moving the date from the final Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday in November.

So, FDR and businesses owners scored a partial win, at least insofar as the Nov. 30 problem is concerned.

The thing I like about this story now is its contemporary salience: President Obama, for example, is not the first Democratic president that Republicans compared to Hitler.

Plus, try to imagine the reaction if Obama used an executive order to change the date of a major holiday without congressional approval. If his critics go berserk when he uses prosecutorial discretion on immigration, Republicans might very well faint if Thanksgiving moved to create more shopping days.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 27, 2014

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Executive Orders, FDR, Thanksgiving | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Fried, Whipped And Canned”: Thanksgiving Isn’t Healthy And I Don’t Care!

The guests at Ilyssa Israel’s Thanksgiving table will get a chance to try a couple new healthy dishes she’s adding to her menu, such as roasted Brussels sprouts with quinoa and cranberries and garlic mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. But those will be served alongside the traditional green bean casserole she makes every year – you know, the kind with cream-of-mushroom soup and those fried onion bits that come in a can.

Israel, 37, an executive assistant from Secaucus, N.J., will use her late mother’s recipe of sprinkling breadcrumbs on top followed by six pats of butter. “It’s so not healthy for you, but I don’t care,” she says. “It’s comfort food. My mom passed away when I was 27. When I think back to our Thanksgivings together, I think of happy times, and that meal always included this string bean casserole.”

What is it about holiday comfort foods that evoke such strong nostalgia? During this time of year, we crave items we wouldn’t touch any other day: gelatin deserts with fake whipped cream, deep-fried turkey or canned cranberries. Even the most die-hard foodies find themselves saying, “It’s not Thanksgiving until I have Mom’s maple-flavored, marshmallow-whipped sweet potato mash.” And recent research shows that a bit of nostalgia is good for us. When we think of fond memories from our past, we feel more socially connected and optimistic about the future.

The smells, tastes and traditions of Thanksgiving food tap into such powerful emotions, says Dr. Charlotte Biltekoff, assistant professor of American studies at the University of California, Davis and author of “Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Dietary Health.”

“The rituals around holiday food connect us to the fantasy we have of the past, which we imagine was more wholesome, natural and simple,” says Biltekoff. “These connections are stronger than the reasons that normally govern our eating choices, like taste, convenience and health.” In other words, comfort foods temporarily make us feel better about living in a complicated, fragmented world.

The foods we choose to celebrate our national holiday also reveal our deeper values as a country, adds Rachel Laudan, a British food historian and author of “Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History.” Unlike other cultures that celebrate festivals with fancier fare, Americans stick with the basics of turkey, gravy and potatoes. “You don’t have fancy sauces or mousses or elaborate desserts,” she says. “It’s a meal that anyone can cook and encapsulates the middle-class ideal.” It’s also a family holiday and symbolizes motherhood and nurturing, she added.

For Israel, that green bean casserole takes her back to the square, white-walled kitchen of the house she grew up in. “As soon as I take a bite, I feel like my mother is with me,” she says. “We’re laughing and reminiscing, and it’s like she hasn’t been gone for the last 10 years.”


By: Sarah Elizabeth Richards, Contributor, TODAY Health, November 25, 2013

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Family Values | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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