Thanksgiving is coming up once again for Americans on the fourth Thursday of November.
The traditional Thanksgiving holiday is primarily celebrated in the United States. It honors the initial feast held between the English settlers and the Native American Wampanoag tribe in what it is now known as Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. In this 1621 feast, the meal probably consisted of deer, shellfish, roast meat, cranberries, and corn. Our tradition of giving thanks stems from the thanks for the harvest and in 1923, the thanks for the rain after a two-month drought.
Today we spend time with family on Thanksgiving, give thanks for our blessings, and indulge in turkey, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, and pie – lots and lots of pie.
But some other countries celebrate different types of Thanksgiving, or “harvest” days. Canada celebrates a Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October; at the end of the harvest season. The Canadian Thanksgiving feast is similar to American tradition with a turkey or other roast. They are especially fond of the Cornucopia tradition, made edible with bread. Countries such as Croatia or Grenada celebrate Thanksgivings on the anniversaries of historical liberations or other independence days.
Let’s go south of the border though and think about Thanksgiving in Mexico. What would they eat if they were to celebrate their harvest? Maybe a roast meat, maybe pumpkins, maybe chilies….but definitely corn tortillas!!! We may eat corn on the cob and corn bread, and hang dried corn cobs for decoration, but what about making corn tortillas for a change?
Corn tortillas were made by the Aztecs thousands and thousands of years ago. They ground corn into cornmeal and made corn dough, or masa, out of it. The dough is shaped into a little ball and flattened into a pancake. The “corn cakes” are then cooked on a hot griddle. Tortillas can be filled with just about anything – including Thanksgiving leftovers!
You can teach your children about tortillas with our book, Burro’s Tortillas by Terri Fields, illustrated by Sherry Rogers. Click here to learn more about Burro’s quest to make tortillas, with or without the help of his friends.