DAA Daily

What’s all the fuss about Thanksgiving?

By: Katharina, Nadia, Luka
The Pawprint

History
In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower carrying 102 passengers out of  Plymouth, England. After a 66 day journey by sea, the Pilgrims stopped near the Massachusetts Bay, where they established the village they called Plymouth from whence they came. The first Winter the Pilgrims experienced was difficult, and only half of the original passengers of the Mayflower survived. The Pilgrims then moved ashore, where they were greeted by an English-speaking Abenaki Indians, and were later introduced to Squanto. Squanto was a part of a Native American tribe called Pawtuxet, and he taught the Pilgrims how to survive. He also helped the Pilgrims form an alliance with a local tribe called the Wampanoag.

By November the following year saw the Pilgrims’ first successful corn harvest. Governor William Bradford decided that a celebration was in order, which came to be the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims and the Native Americans feasted on the food of the land of deer, vegetables and seasoned with Native American spices.

Thanksgiving traditions
Every year Thanksgiving, albeit at different times is celebrated in Canada, the United States, some Caribbean islands, and Liberia. In the USA it is celebrated on the fourth thursday in November. Every country and family celebrates it in different ways. People travel from all around the world to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Many families follow the traditions from the first Thanksgiving celebrated at Plymouth. Most of the common foods include turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, squash, and cornbread.

Popular pie flavors are pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato and apple. The wishbone – another important tradition – which is attached to the breast meat in the turkey’s chest. After all the meat has been eaten, and the wishbone is brittle, two people take either end of the wishbone, make a wish and pull. The person who ends up with the larger piece gets their wish.

Another common tradition is that each year the President of the United States receives 2 live turkeys. At a ceremony he “pardons” the turkeys, allowing them to live for the rest of their lives on a farm. Donation also plays a role during Thanksgiving. Many people donate money to shelters or participate in food drives.

Many families watch the New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade includes marching bands, floats, songs and performances from Broadway musicals, and giant helium-filled balloons! After the meal families often do additional activities. Some like to take a walk, take a nap, or play cards and board games with their families.

Controversy
Thanksgiving is celebrated by Americans everywhere and it has become associated with family and food. However, this holiday is not without its controversies. As we know, Thanksgiving is the holiday that English pilgrims and settlers in America met the natives around their settlement and then were helped by them. The native americans helped them to grow several crops such as corn. Then the pilgrims invited them in thanks to dine with them.

This is the story told to most children in school, however, there is a darker side to this holiday which was highlighted In 1970 by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) who  established Thanksgiving as their National Mourning Day. The fact that they did this poses many questions for the Americans who were not taught of this side of their holiday. Over the subsequent years many Native Americans died  and treated extremely unfairly, their lands razed and families killed. That being said the country is dealing with its past in different ways through the opening of various Smithsonian museums to educate people about the history of America and its indigenous. Thanksgiving is widely celebrated and continues bringing families together and worth billions to the US economy every year.

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