Thanksgiving in a New Light

Thanksgiving. It’s turkey and football and family. It’s tradition and time to relax. As many celebrate and overindulge in the coming days, it’s also important to understand and perhaps take a closer look at this often overlooked holiday. 

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An interpreted illustration of the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

As it turns out, many of the supposed events on the first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and Native Americans are untrue. In fact, historians say the feast appears to be much more brutal then what the average elementary school teacher shares with students.

After the feast, some historians believe that peace continued between the groups; however, about 10 years after the feast, thousands of Englishmen landed in the new world causing disease and death among the natives. Native Americans now use Thanksgiving as a day of remembrance for the dead according to historians around the US. The storytelling continues with the fact that the feast did not last for one evening but instead, the groups celebrated for three days and the feast did not occur for at least another decade.

In 1789, President George Washington attempted to establish Thanksgiving as an annual day of prayer and thankfulness; however, Thanksgiving was not an annual occurrence until President Lincoln declared it a national holiday on October 3rd, 1863 when writer Sarah Josepha Hale persuaded him that it could help unite and heal a broken country.

As most would agree, it seems that Thanksgiving can be overlooked. This could very well be because of the fact that people do not understand the true origin of the holiday. Or perhaps this oversight could be due to stores displaying their Christmas merchandise less than a week after Halloween causing most minds to completely neglect Thanksgiving and begin thinking about the next holiday season. Some argue it is due to the lack of thankfulness in the world, or that people have forgotten what it means to be thankful.  

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Festive pumpkins and gourds used as decor for Thanksgiving.

While most say the holiday is forgotten or overlooked, many families still uphold their family traditions on the third Thursday of November. One of those families being Sophomore, Annie Smith’s. “I think it’s a great time for family before Christmas. My aunts and mom usually make dinner, and then send us outside or downstairs so they can cut out coupons and look up prices for Black Friday,” she says laughing. “My family then plays a game of football, so I guess we make a pretty big deal out of it!”

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