By Marilyn Delk
Thanksgiving has remained a meaningful holiday in lives of people across our nation since it was first instituted; however a first Thanksgiving Day is difficult to pinpoint. Annual celebrations of bounteous harvests span cultures, continents, and time; after the fall harvest, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans feasted and paid tribute to the gods. Thanksgiving bears a resemblance to an ancient Jewish harvest festival, and long before Europeans set foot in America, Native Americans had a rich tradition of feasting and merrymaking commemorating the harvest.
Most accounts of Thanksgivings in our country begin with the Pilgrims’ celebratory feast in 1621 which included Native Americans and lasted for three days. George Washington established the first national Thanksgiving in 1789, a custom followed by Presidents John Adams and James Madison. In 1863, following a vigorous campaign by writer Sarah Josepha Hale who wrote the beloved “Mary Had A Little Lamb” nursery rhyme, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November, and in 1941, the fourth Thursday of November became Thanksgiving Day across the United States.
While the Thanksgiving celebration now centers on sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends, contemplation of all for which we can be thankful remains a meaningful component of the holiday. I am grateful for many precious things, among which are the joy, solace, and inspiration provided to humankind by the arts. Expressing that gratitude by enthusiastically supporting the arts is appropriate at all times, but specific opportunities to actively offer financial support to artists and arts organizations during the season of Thanksgiving have been established.
I recently learned of a national effort to support local artists, creators, and performers—Artists Sunday, created in 2020 on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, promoting shopping with artists and buying art as gifts during the holidays. More than 4500 professional artists and almost 600 non-profit arts organizations, municipalities, and businesses collaborate to offer one-of-a-kind shopping experiences, encouraging people to support local artists. Although Darke County Center of the Arts is not currently among those supporting organizations, DCCA officials strongly encourage the idea of giving a gift of the arts this holiday season. One way to accomplish that would be by visiting the Anna Bier Gallery in Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, which is open every Sunday from noon until 2 p.m. and features the work of artists from around our region; the impressive work of 18-year-old artist Quinci Woodall is currently on display. You might find the perfect one-of-a-kind gift to make someone’s holiday truly memorable!
The Tuesday following Thanksgiving, November 29, has been designated as Giving Tuesday, a global movement that urges people to do good, transforming their communities and the world through their gifts to non-profits which rely on donations to continue their valuable missions. Begun in 2012, Giving Tuesday last year saw 35 million adults throughout the United States participating to direct $2.7 billion dollars towards making positive change. DCCA was a beneficiary of last year’s giving, and is once again participating in Giving Tuesday when donations can be made online at www.DarkeCountyArts.org as well as by calling DCCA at 937-547-0908 or stopping by the office located on the third floor of Greenville Public Library between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Donations of $25 or over will earn the benefits accorded to all membership donations.
Another organization supporting the arts, Darke County Endowment for the Arts will match Giving Tuesday donations to DCCA up to $1000. The Endowment is a charitable organization that receives and invests charitable gifts from those wishing to leave a lasting legacy enriching lives through the arts. The Endowment maintains a General Fund from which grants are annually awarded to deserving individuals and organizations, a Memorial Hall Fund dedicated to the preservation of historic St. Clair Memorial Hall, and the Darke County Center for the Arts Fund which helps DCCA with equipment purchases and other major expenses, providing yet another possible recipient of your gift expressing thankfulness for the bounty of local arts experiences. DCEA enriches lives, enabling the arts to live in our community forever; for more information visit www.SupportDCEA.org.