Thanksgiving: Turkey and Traditions

 

In elementary school, every American student learns about the (somewhat unsavory) story behind Thanksgiving. In the fall of 1621 the famous (but arguably cruel) pilgrims of Plymouth Rock feasted with the (unsuspecting) Wampanoag Native Americans. Since that historic date, a well-kept tradition of food, family, and friends has survived, but the image of Native Americans and pilgrims dining peacefully and happily together may not have.

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America’s first “Thanksgiving” (Image: Christopher Klein)

But what would the pioneers of our nation, the pilgrims who began American history, say about Thanksgiving 2016? Would they applaud our efforts to keep the tradition of their ceremonious (but unpleasant) meal alive? Or would they remark more disdainfully on our modern interpretation of their historic day?

Today, almost 400 years after the first Thanksgiving, most of our excitement surrounding one of our nation’s most historic holidays concerns the ghastly amount of food we are certain to enjoy. The history behind the day seems to be more of an excuse for us to focus on our families and friends than the colonists; but is it at all bad for America to have a day on which we can appreciate each other and focus on the privileges in our lives, however many or few? Despite our general lack of recognition for Thanksgiving’s historical significance, it remains a day on which we are united, either by our collective spirit of gratitude or by our love for turkey, potatoes, and stuffing. Unlike many of America’s more commercialized holidays, it is a day of appreciation and unity, which are perhaps most crucial at this point in our country.