Dark History That Explains Why Thanksgiving Is Considered Bad
The dark history of Thanksgiving is forgotten today as the holiday has become a day for families to gather and celebrate with delicious food.
Thanksgiving history dates back to the early 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. The holiday had a different meaning and was celebrated differently back then as compared to today's contemporary celebrations.
It all started as a day to thank everyone after a successful harvest, and people fasted on that day. It is quite the opposite in today's celebration, where people gather around to enjoy a fabulous feast.
The holiday is celebrated in different countries around the world, but mainly in North America. All the territories have different dates for celebrating the holiday, fixed by years of the territories' personal history and changes. However, initially, the difference came as different territories had different harvest seasons depending on the crops and climate.
Dark History of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a holiday to rejoice for families and celebrate together, but it has a dark history.
In the schools of the United States of America, we were taught that according to American lore, Thanksgiving started after a bunch of pilgrims came on a ship named Mayflower and settled in now known as Plymouth. They shared a three-day celebratory feast with the local tribe Wampanoag after a successful corn harvest marking the beginning of the first American Thanksgiving.
However, according to Time, colonization was not as easy as it is depicted in the historical tales. There was violence in the form of slavery and generations-long war and the celebratory feasts of Thanksgiving somehow manages to cast a shadow on it. The dark origin has not reached many people.
Origin of Thanksgiving in America
The very first Thanksgiving in America was celebrated in 1621 as a feast shared by the newcomer pilgrims and Wampanoag after the new settlers had a successful harvest of their produce.
In an attempt to flee England after the English authorities, many Pilgrims started suppressing their religious practice and came to now known as Plymouth in Massachettuts aboard the ship Mayflower. They caught diseases, and nearly half of the 132 crew and pilgrims could not see the next spring. The locals of the tribe taught them to farm corn and survive.
In the second year of their arrival, pilgrims had a successful harvest of crops which ignited a celebration among them. To celebrate the harvest, they organized a three-day-long feast and invited the local Wampanoag people to join them. They together sat in harmony and enjoyed the meal, starting the well-known thanksgiving tradition, at least that is the traditional story.
The original story of thanksgiving in America has been challenged by historians as well. Smithsonian Magazine reports, Rev. Alexander Young published the feast between the newcomer pilgrims and the Wampanoag people and the footnote included that was the first thanksgiving that stuck in people's minds and is still there even after centuries.
However, the idea has been challenged in several instances. Many believe the first official citation of thanksgiving came years after the first feast and involved a much darker origin story including massacre and violence.
Story of Thanksgiving Massacre
According to Delish, the first official citing of thanksgiving came years after the original event. They said that thanksgiving was first mentioned after Massachusetts Colony Governor John Winthrop announced thanksgiving after volunteers massacred 700 native Pequot people in 1637. Massacres have, in several instances, been followed by thanksgiving.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated to acknowledge Massachusetts Colony Governor John Winthrop's barbaric victory over Pequot and Wampanoag people, as per the reports by The Time.
However, the tradition of celebrating a thanksgiving holiday after a victorious full-fledged war did not start after European settlers invaded America.
Thanksgivings' Wikipedia article states, in 1588 English celebrated thanksgiving after they proved victorious Spanish Armada, a fleet of Spanish navy tasked with overthrowing Elizabeth I from England. Of course, they fasted rather than feasted at that time, but it was a thanksgiving celebration.
Do Native American Celebrate Thanksgiving?
Native Americans do not celebrate Thanksgiving as everyone else. On the contrary, they mourn on this day.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, native Americans gather at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill every year on the day of thanksgiving to mourn the genocide committed by the early European settlers and their several-generation descendants.
However, some native Americans get together with their family and friends and share a large meal together but do not think of the meal as Thanksgiving. They just take advantage of getting together with their loved ones and spending quality time together.
Dennis Zotigh, a writer for Smithsonian Magazine remembers how wrong and ignorant was of his teachers at his primary school to instruct kids to bring feathers and brown sacks for making native American costumes for thanksgiving during his school years. He argues teachers have implanted negative images in young children's minds by decorating thanksgiving as a happy holiday and adds these are shared thoughts of many native parents.
What Did Pilgrims Do To Natives On Thanksgiving?
Pilgrims robbed corn and food from the natives as soon as they arrive the territories. Some say they killed the natives either from the disease they brought or from the direct deed.
But historical books teaches us that Pilgrims of Plymouth gathered for a feast with the Wampanoag people, which was later dubbed the first thanksgiving.
Several sources and people argue the decorated tale of the thanksgiving feast, which allegedly lasted for three days, omits all the violence committed by pilgrims towards the several tribes that made the Wampanoag confederation. One such instance is Dennis Zotigh's essay in Smithsonian Magazine.
Massachusetts Colony Governor John Winthrop massacred over 700 people of the Pequot tribe and captured hundreds of more women and children as slaves before declaring a day of thanksgiving for the volunteers who helped during the violence according to Delish. This is also the first time thanksgiving was official mention of thanksgiving.
In the centuries that followed, more European settlers swarmed New England and killed hundreds of thousands of natives in an attempt to ascertain their dominance over the land. Some native people claim the settlement was genocide against their ancestors.
Why Is Thanksgiving Bad?
Thanksgiving is often considered a beautifully decorated bad history because of how the pilgrims used violence against natives to colonize the land.
As the well-known tale of thanksgiving is about pilgrims feasting for three days with the Wampanoag people, many people now argue that violence was omitted in the tale.
While the majority of American families gather around their dining table to have a feast with their families and friends while extending their thanks to everyone, some native or indigenous view the holiday as a celebration of genocide and racial dominance that lasted for centuries against their ancestors.
The idea of celebrating thanksgiving is bad due to the mascara of hundreds of thousands of native people by the pilgrims and other European settlers who first feasted with Wampanoag people, starting the tradition of feasting on Thanksgiving in the first place.
Is Thanksgiving Offensive To Indigenous People?
Indigenous people might be offended as it reminds them of the oppression and genocide committed against their ancestors every year on Thanksgiving.
According to Indianapolis Public Library, Indigenous people remember the day of thanksgiving as the day of mourning and gather in Plymouth Rock to mourn together. They also protest the oppression and racism they have faced ever since the arrival of the first foreign settlers.
However, many others have different beliefs about celebrating Thanksgiving. However, they do not celebrate the day as the holiday of thanksgiving but take the opportunity to gather with family and friends and share meaningful food together.
There are various answers on whether indigenous or native American people are offended by the holiday or not. Everyone has their own experience and their own perspective on viewing the holiday and relating it with the shared American history. In short, getting offended varies from person to person or family to family.
Why Is Thanksgiving Celebrated On A Thursday?
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since December 26, 1941, after Franklin D. Roosevelt and congress signed a joint resolution to declare the day as a holiday.
The final Thursday was proclaimed a national thanksgiving holiday by Abraham Lincoln, after being pursued to do so by Sarah Josepha Hale. She wrote letters to different politicians and powerful people for over four decades advocating an official holiday for Thanksgiving.
As the American economy was crippled by the long civil war, on October 31, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried changing the holiday date to next to last Thursday giving one extra week for Christmas shopping by signing a presidential proclamation. The change only caused chaos in the United States as confusion rose among the citizens, schools, and businesses.
A vast majority of people were against the change and dubbed his thanksgiving as Franksgiving. The new next-to-last Thursday thanksgiving was celebrated for two years before Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the official holiday to the fourth Thursday of November on December 26, 1941. Since then, the holiday has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
Apart from political reasons, there are no religious or historical references for celebrating thanksgiving on Thursdays. Other territories have their own dates or particular days for celebrating thanksgiving around the world.
Who Celebrates Thanksgiving On The Second Monday In October?
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, not in November.
Just like the Americans, Canadians also have a tradition of celebrating thanksgiving every year. Their celebrations also look similar to that of Americans, they have turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn and pumpkin pie. However, the start of the tradition differs.
Similar to the American version of Thanksgiving beginning, Canadians also have not found an agreement on when exactly the tradition started. Some say the tradition started in 1578 when British explorer Arthur Frobisher and his crew returned safely after finding the Northwest Passage and gathered for a feast for their safe returns, others say the tradition commenced when early French settlers celebrated their first successful harvest in the 17th century.
Despite the difference, Canadian families and friends gather every year to extend their thanks to their loved ones and enjoy a magnificent feast followed by a deep conversation and sometimes sports. Watching holiday movies together with the family is also a big part of celebrating thanksgiving nowadays.
Why Is Turkey The Main Dish For Thanksgiving?
When you hear the word thanksgiving, the first thing that comes to our mind is turkey.
But have you ever wondered why turkey is the main dish on a thanksgiving feast? Numerous other birds and meat animals could be used for the Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey has nothing to do with the alleged first thanksgiving feast between the pilgrims and Wampanoag. Their menu is little known apart from the five deers that Wampanoag people brought with them, along with some wild birds found in that area, according to Chron.
Incorporating turkey into the thanksgiving dinner was only done in the mid-19th century, thanks to the media publishing recipes loaded with turkey during that time. The large size of the bird compared to other birds used for meat also played a role as thanksgiving dinner often had a huge number of people to feed.
Similarly, turkey also makes a magnificent centerpiece on the dinner table. It can also be enjoyed fried, boiled, roasted, and grilled making it suitable for people with different tastebuds. Turkey also is cheaper to raise and produce than rearing cows or pigs for meat, it also takes much less time.
Whatever the reason might be, turkey has made a place on the thanksgiving dinner table for a long time now and it has become a tradition. According to Chron, every 9 out of 10 American enjoy turkey on Thanksgiving every year.
Americans eat nearly 50 million turkeys every year on Thanksgiving alone.
Apart from turkey, here is a list of the top 15 dishes you need for the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner with your family and friends.
- Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Bites
- Cranberry Whipped Feta Dip
- Mashed Potato Casserole
- Apple Stuffing
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Green Bean Casserole
- Thanksgiving Rolls
- Perfect Gravy
- Cranberry Sauce
- Mini Piecakens
- Fondue Mashed Potatoes
- Classic Stuffing
- Cheesy Green Bean & Mushroom Tart
- Turtle Cheesecake
- Pecan Pie
What Values Or Ideas Can We Learn From Thanksgiving?
The tale of thanksgiving comes from friendship and gratitude.
Initially, the holiday was celebrated to thank God for success and victory, which still stands today. Today, we gather with our friends and families to celebrate the holiday by thanking them for their support and love and spending quality time together.
The holiday also provides ample opportunities for learning. We can take a break from our hectic schedules and take a moment to rejoice with our families and friends. We can also take a break to think about everything that we are thankful to have in our lives.
For kids, we have help them by engaging them to community services like taking them to the nearby food banks and retirement home and encourage them to participate in preparing and distributing the holiday food. Smaller kids can be taught to work together with the family and engage them to prep the foods for the family to enjoy in the Thanksgiving dinner.