I really do not like to write my monthly article as a whole list of facts about something that anyone can go on the internet and look up to learn for themselves. However, during Thanksgiving this year, I was thinking about the first Thanksgiving and how our idea and how we celebrate Thanksgiving nowadays must be so different yet we still carry on the tradition. I decided to do some investigating online and I was pretty much shocked at what I found.
As an early elementary school student, we are taught that in 1621 the Plymouth Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians had a feast that we recognize as the first Thanksgiving. What the American children are NOT taught include the following things
1. Thanksgiving was NOT an official public holiday until 1863. Some of the Presidents decided that they would declare a Thanksgiving every once in a while but the tradition pretty much was eradicated for 200 years. Then, a man named Abraham Lincoln (more commonly known as our 16th president) thought that in the midst of the Civil War, we should start to annually celebrate what we are thankful for by eating large amounts of food.
2. The Pilgrims did not in fact eat a turkey at the first Thanksgiving. While most Americans consider turkey the main dish of Thanksgiving, if we really are supposed to be celebrating Thanksgiving we should be eating some shrimp, deer, vegetables and nuts. Doesnt sound very similar to what the typical American dining table will hold Thanksgiving day, now does it?
3. A lot of people grow up thinking that Thanksgiving is about family or religion when in fact it is about neither. In either instance, would the Pilgrims really have invited the Indians? Its even believed by many people that the Indians were not even invited to the Thanksgiving feast. They happened to be in the area and saw the celebration so they decided to bring some food of their own and join in on the fun.
4. Thanksgiving is not really a happy time for all it's celebrated now. The Indians were at first quite hostile toward the Pilgrims but ended up helping them when they were having problems setting up houses and providing food for their families. In return, they were given diseases that they had zero immunity to, had their land seized, were viciously fought with and were even relocated off of their land. From an Indians point of view, Thanksgiving can be considered as a betrayal of a friendship.
5. On a more recent note, the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade used to include live animals rather than the floats used today. Black Friday is just a gimmick that was created by department stores to increase revenue. Joe Madden did not create turducken and you can thank the Detroit Lions for Thanksgiving Day football.
Of course, no one knows exactly what happened at the first Thanksgiving but from my research, it seems that what we have grown up to believed have happened is most likely not the entire truth.
Honestly, I still cannot believe that some people think the Indians busted our party! Perhaps that day in 1621 is not only the first celebrated Thanksgiving but the first documented American party that was crashed.
Ariana Sadoughi writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.