Thursday, November 26, 2009

thank you

The Pilgrims and the Indians sitting down for dinner together is not the real reason for Thanksgiving, as most people might think.

Thanksgiving is in fact not an old holiday, or connected to 17th century New England in any way. No "Thanksgiving" feast occurred in Plymouth. Only within the 20th century did people begin to associate this day with the Pilgrims and the Indians. This was promulgated mostly by a cheery whitewashing of the Pilgrim-Indian relationship, and the Christian slant given the day of observance created by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

"The Pilgrims were Puritans, which is a very strict religion," Professor of Early American History Edward Gray said. "The way they gave thanks was through fasting. They would not have feasted to give thanks." Had the Pilgrims been giving thanks, the leader of the church would have announced a time of atonement throughout the town. This would have resulted in solemn prayer and fasting for a specified number of days.

The true tale behind the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce dates lead back to before the end of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln decided that Americans needed to have a day to give thanks to God. In the middle of the civil war, Lincoln was grappling for ways for people to come together, trying to hold the union from breaking apart. Lincoln stated in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of Oct. 3, 1863, "I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

And over time, starting from Lincoln's proclamation - this tradition evolved of specific dishes. This combined with white guilt over how the Indians were treated and got somehow transformed into this idea of Pilgrims and Indians coming together. This single feast linked through one letter sent back home turned into this bland, mindless gorging by a country who neither farms or harvests, nor does it hardly show the proper dignity and respect to the people who were here first, the Natives, who saved the first Pilgrims' asses in the first place.

So there's your Thanksgiving, America. Enjoy