The Meaning Of Thanksgiving Essay

Thanksgiving Essay examples

588 Words3 Pages

The truth behind the tradition is surprising. Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims seem to go together, but the truth is, the Pilgrims never held an autumnal Thanksgiving feast. However the Pilgrims did have a feast in 1621, after their first harvest, and it is this feast, which people often refer to as "The First Thanksgiving". This feast was never repeated, though, so it can't be called the beginning of a tradition, nor was it termed by the colonists or "Pilgrims" a Thanksgiving Feast. In fact, a day of thanksgiving was a day of prayer and fasting, and would have been held any time that they felt an extra day of thanks was called for. Nevertheless, the 1621 feast has become a model that we think of for our own…show more content…

The truth of the matter is, when the Pilgrims arrived, they found an abandoned Wampanoag village and moved right in. In 1618, a massive epidemic of an unknown disease left by English explorers swept across Wampanoag country and decimated many of the villages. This epidemic caused the death of ten to thirty percent of the total population and all but a few of the 2,000 people of the village of Patuxet. When the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, they landed at Patuxet with no idea of what had occurred. At this point, there were only about 2,000 members left in the Wampanoag tribe, down from 12,000 in 1600. Despite the incredible losses to his people, Wampanoag leader Massasoit and 90 of his men sat down for a harvest celebration offered by the white men. For three days the Wampanoag and Pilgrims feasted on deer, wild turkey, fish, beans, squash, corn and other foods native to North America. Although the celebration was good-natured, this event truly signifies the beginning of a drastic decline of native culture and Thanksgiving would be more fittingly observed as a day of mourning rather than a celebration. In the years that followed, skirmishes occurred and more Native Americans were killed. In 1637, English soldiers massacred 700 Pequot men, women and children as an example of the English way of war, yet we still celebrate Thanksgiving as a joyful event. So, as we sit down for our Thanksgiving dinner,

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Here I intend to define Thanksgiving and then define why people tend to eat turkey at Thanksgiving. This also includes showing where religion comes into Thanksgiving and how the Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving as well as the North American people.

Thanksgiving is a thank you ceremony for the previous harvest

If one were to boil down the strictest meaning behind Thanksgiving then being thankful for the harvest is probably the strictest. This definition takes it back down to the absolute basics. It removes any ideas of the first Thanksgiving involving Native Americans and removes any idea of religion. The idea of being thankful is simply an appreciation for all the harvest has brought, where people pat each other on the back instead of praising a deity.

The date is also special because of the harvest festival, the Protestant Reformation and the collaboration with the Native Americans at the time. Even though the Native American side of it turned out badly in the end, it was a part of the first Thanksgiving and so is celebrated alongside the harvest and religious side to Thanksgiving.

Religion is deeply rooted in Thanksgiving

Where god comes into play regarding Thanksgiving comes from the “thankful” part of the day. People may ascribe their thanks to the people who grew the crops and raised the livestock; however, America was and still is a religious country. This means that when thanks is given it is given to a god. People give thanks for what they have received by thanking a god/deity.

Beer and fowl were at the first Thanksgiving

This is why Turkey is eaten at Thanksgiving. The fowl that was slaughtered was probably chicken or turkey, and since Americans tend to have turkey less frequently than chicken, it seems only fair that turkey be eaten at Thanksgiving. There is also the pragmatic side to the tradition. Back in the olden days when people had less money and resources, a large family meal with friends and such would call for a lot of food. There is more food on a turkey than on a number of chickens. The amount of food on a turkey would be too much for a regular gathering but just fine for a larger gathering.

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving too

Few people know that when they define and celebrate Thanksgiving that the Canadians celebrate it too. Some consider Thanksgiving another tradition like Christmas which means it is just another holiday. But, it is a tradition and many people wish to hold up traditions even if they do not believe in the religious side or the historical side of it.

Turkey was part of the meal

William Bradford wrote about turkey hunts with the colonists, which added weight to the idea that the first Thanksgiving had turkey in it. Secondly, when Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday he had turkey on the menu which further secured its role in Thanksgiving. It again is a pragmatic food for people in large gatherings to eat on Thanksgiving.

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