Dakota Datebook


Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today is Thanksgiving. Tradition shows it as a religious holiday of thankful prayer and meditation, but the significance of the day has varied through the decades in North Dakota. In 1890 the New Rockford Transcript believed that this was a day in which “the people could express their gratitude to the Creator for the bounty of the year’s harvest.” Twenty years later, the Grand Forks Herald of 1910 expressed a slightly more secular opinion, that it was “…the day of feasting and rest, the day of thanksgiving (and) the thought of happiness is wont to predominate.”

By 1930, words that might apply to today’s lifestyle were penned in the Carson Press,which stated: “Today not much time is spent in meditation about anything. People are rushing hither and thither. Millions of Americans go some distance to attend Thanksgiving dinner, but they have hardly reached the old hearthstone…, when they have to turn around and rush back.” Reflecting on the loss of its religious significance, The Press continued, “They do not find much time for thankfulness or anything else but eating a big dinner, probably more than they should.”

The following decade, in the post World War II era of 1948, the LaMoure Chronicle’s message was that, “…it’s a case here in America of feeling very thankful by comparison…thankful we are not living in the battle-torn towns of the Old World.”

But one predominant theme seems to remain constant, as noted in 1890 and echoed throughout the years, when the editor of the Transcript wrote, “One of the pleasantest (sic) features of the day, features that custom has inseparably connected with it, is the family reunion, which is the source of so much enjoyment. …Around the dear old fireplace and in communion with dear ones at home, the joys of the past are renewed, so much as the iconoclastic hand of time admits of such renewal.”

In the modern era, Christmas has grown to significantly overshadow Thanksgiving, yet we do not want to give up this old holiday. Perhaps the golds and amber browns of Thanksgiving help it serve as a rich sunset for the year, a sunset crowned with happiness or sorrow, and its twilight opens the way to the sparkling glitter of tinsel and the twinkling of the multicolored lights of Christmas.

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis


The New Rockford Transcript December 5, 1890

Grand Forks Herald November 25, 1910

The Carson Press November 20, 1930

The LaMoure Chronicle November 24, 1948

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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