Family & Thanksgiving
More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving has evolved as a time to gather together. On Christmas most Americans stay at home, but on Thanksgiving, many pack up and leave home to spend the holiday with relatives and friends. This is nearly as old a custom of the day as having turkey and pumpkin pie.
The reunion tradition arose in the early eighteenth century as families began dispersing across New England to settle on the frontiers of New England (western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). Gradually, before and after the Revolutionary War, New Englanders pressed into New York State, Ohio, and even parts of the southern colonies and territories. In the nineteenth century, hundreds of New Englanders went west during the Gold Rush and subsequent westward migrations. And as Boston, New York, and other towns grew into cities, young people left farms to join businesses or to work in industries in urban centers. Thanksgiving was the time people chose for family reunion, to go back to the old homestead for a visit. It still is.
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