Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! The commemoration of the first Thanksgiving feast between the Wampanoag tribe and the Mayflower pilgrims is obviously an integral part of American culture. And yet, as it’s not celebrated anywhere in Europe, I was always curious about the celebration whenever I was watching an episode of a TV episode set on the holiday. What are they celebrating? Why is it so close to Christmas? Won’t they get sick of having two big turkey dinners in such close proximity?
As I got older and more worldly, I gathered more information and began to understand the origins of the holiday. I began to understand why Americans refer to The Holidays, plural, and I no longer think Thanksgiving is too close to Christmas. It’s actually a nice way to break up the monotony of Autumn/Winter. Though the commemoration of a peaceful feast between pilgrims and Native Americans always seemed strangely melancholy to me, given how things turned out.
Interestingly enough, that wasn’t actually the first Thanksgiving. Well, obviously it was, but the term thanksgiving was already in use among the pilgrims as a term for a period of prayerful fast. So in a way, this lavish feast was actually the opposite of what they normally considered a thanksgiving. It was more like a typical harvest festival, only with the extra significance of the joining together of pilgrims and Native Americans. The term the first Thanksgiving didn’t really enter popular usage until 1840 when it was used by Boston publisher Alexander Young, when he published a book featuring a letter describing the feast. In 1863, it became a federal holiday after a proclamation from Abraham Lincoln.
I quite like the simplicity of the term. Because of the holiday’s modernity, there’s no complex etymology to be sifted through. Instead, it describes itself pretty simply: a day for giving thanks. So I hope you enjoy your meal, relax, spend some time with your family, and have plenty to give thanks for.
Still though, won’t you be sick of turkey and Brussels sprouts by Christmas?