Tonight, the dormers come back from their homes/vacation stays and start unpacking and studying after our wonderful Thanksgiving break. This past week I’ve thought a lot about what I’m thankful for. I’ve also thought a lot about what Thanksgiving means, and did a little research on how this holiday came to be. After some research, I found out one thing I shouldn’t be thankful for: this holiday.
My quest to find out the truth behind Thanksgiving started with this video:
Franchesa Ramsey, the creator and main actor in this video, brings up startling facts and those certain facts make me ashamed to celebrate this holiday.
Thanksgiving is what I like to call an “American Guilt Holiday.” What’s an American Guilt Holiday? Well, to keep it short: An American Guilt Holiday is a holiday, usually where schools and some workplaces take the day off, to celebrate victories of our ancestors, but refuse to acknowledge the atrocities that lead to that victory. Most Americans know about the first Thanksgiving feast, which was a three-day celebration to showcase the parity of the English settlers and Wampanoag people. However, this wasn’t because the settlers and Indigenous people were kind, neighboring groups. In fact, the Plymouth colony took their land and the Wampanoag’s savvy hunting and growing skills to essentially overthrow these kind people.
The settlers came to America with one mission: colonization. They wanted to settle in America and take up as much land as possible before other countries stole it. However, they weren’t familiar with the idea that others had already lived in this land before them. Native American tribes had lived relatively peacefully among one another. If one tribe was struggling with game or growing, they’d ask to use some of another’s tribe territory, and more times than not, they’d be able to borrow the other tribe’s land. Before Europeans, there was no “real estate,” a Christian concept brought to America with the colonists. So, when the English arrived wanting land, the Native Americans didn’t know that they wouldn’t get their land back. They were pushed out of their homes by force, usually via guns or bombs, or enslaved to work for the home-stealers.
The Native Americans had lived on these lands before anyone else; thus, knowing every little detail needed to survive in this territory. The Europeans used the Indigenous people as human manuals. Like any beginning country, the pilgrims had many problems; the main problem being food. Without any knowledge of their “New World,” their crops died and livestock was hard to find. They turned their sad fate around and made their days without food “Days of Fasting” to pray to God for a better outcome. When they did get food, they feasted and celebrated God and their good fortune and they called these meals “Thanksgiving,” as they were giving thanks to God. The colonists wrote that word down, and the name for this holiday was born. Most of their food was given to them by local Native American tribes, however, the Puritans never shared it.
This holiday wasn’t even celebrated country-wide until 16 years after the “First Feast.” It was declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln, after the New Americans had a great feast celebrating the great massacre of the Pequot tribe. Basically, this holiday was started as a celebration of murdering, infecting, and raping an entire population of people and pushing them out of their land. Speaking of the Native Americans, (or the ones left, anyways) they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead, they use it as a Day of Mourning. They pray for their ancestors and family killed by the Puritans.
Why does all this matter? Well, history books have twisted this holiday. If more people knew what truly started this holiday, we wouldn’t be smiling and laughing at the dinner table while eating turkey and pumpkin pie (both of which weren’t present in the first Thanksgiving feast). I hope next year you really think about the true meaning of this holiday and are thankful for you and your ancestor’s good fortune on this holiday.