Should Thanksgiving Be A Nationalistic Holiday?
Category: News & PoliticsBy: john-russell • 2 weeks ago • 85 comments
Trying to find an objective source , I read both the World book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Britannica entries on Thanksgiving.
Here are excerpts
More than any other American holiday, Thanksgiving Day is surrounded with tradition, myth, and legend. Popular accounts of the first thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony—held by Native Americans and English pilgrims in 1621—do not stand up to the historical facts known about the gathering. Further, for many modern Native Americans, the holiday also serves as a sad reminder that the arrival of Europeans ultimately had many tragic consequences for them. But one legacy of thanksgiving that has endured and remains true to the historical record is the theme of generosity—for three days in the autumn of 1621, some of the native inhabitants of New England joined more recent arrivals from England in sharing the gifts of the land with each other. Each November, Americans continue this tradition with family and friends.
Many Native American groups have a long tradition of celebrations of thanks for the bounties of the earth. European peoples have also held autumn harvest festivals and feasts for centuries. In 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Plantation, near what is now Charles City, Virginia, on December 4. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a day of thanksgiving to God.
... The Plymouth Colony was founded by English pilgrims in 1620 at the site of a deserted Wampanoag village called Patuxet. The colonists’ first winter in Plymouth was harsh, and about half of them died. In the spring of 1621, however, a Patuxet man named Tisquantum—called Squanto by the English—showed them how to plant traditional Native American crops of corn and pumpkin in addition to their European peas, wheat, and barley. In early autumn of 1621, the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, organized a festival to give thanks to God for the survival of the colony and for their first harvest.
The festival lasted three days. Tradition holds that the colonists invited Massasoit, the Wampanoag chief, although some versions of the story claim he came to negotiate a new land treaty. He arrived with about 90 of his people and contributed five deer to the feast. The women of the settlement supervised cooking over outdoor fires. Foods served probably included duck and turkey; a corn porridge called nasaump; and a pumpkin dish called pompion. The English and Wampanoags played games and engaged in contests of skill, and the English held a military review. The colonists held similar harvest celebrations for several years. The Wampanoags did not always participate. Good relations between the colonists and the Native Americans eventually ended because of disputes over land, religious beliefs, and cultural traditions.
Plymouth’s Thanksgiving began with a few colonists going out “fowling,” possibly for turkeys but more probably for the easier prey of geese and ducks, since they “in one day killed as much as…served the company almost a week.” Next, 90 or so Wampanoag made a surprise appearance at the settlement’s gate, doubtlessly unnerving the 50 or so colonists. Nevertheless, over the next few days the two groups socialized without incident. The Wampanoag contributed venison to the feast, which included the fowl and probably fish , eels , shellfish , stews, vegetables , and beer . Since Plymouth had few buildings and manufactured goods, most people ate outside while sitting on the ground or on barrels with plates on their laps. The men fired guns , ran races, and drank liquor , struggling to speak in broken English and Wampanoag. This was a rather disorderly affair, but it sealed a treaty between the two groups that lasted until King Philip’s War (1675–76), in which hundreds of colonists and thousands of Native Americans lost their lives.
Thanksgiving was first declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, but it is not clear that Lincoln intended to connect Thanksgiving to the Plymouth Rock pilgrims. There had been some talk of a thanksgiving day during the Founding era that didnt even mention the pilgrims, but over the course of the 19th century the holiday became infused with the pilgrim story.
In the mid 19th century or so there was a prominent writer named Sarah Hale, who "lobbied" for a Thanksgiving Day in America to become a third patriotic holiday to go along with The Fourth Of July and Washington's Birthday. And so it was , at the time.
I mention these things because of a Ted Cruz tweet over the weekend. Cruz objected to a short segment on an MSNBC show on Saturday morning, when a Native American activist was allowed to go on a "rant" about Thanksgiving
Cruz went on twitter and said
corporate message: Thanksgiving sucks. Come for the lies; stay for the anti-American hate.
· Nov 20
“Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence,” Gyasi Ross says about the history of American Thanksgiving. “That genocide and violence is still on the menu.”