When thinking of Thanksgiving, we usually think of the main event, which is FOOD. Let’s face it, sometimes that is the only reason you put up with Uncle Joe asking you what you plan to do with your life or those annoying reminders about how your sister’s son got into med school. So why do we do it? Why do we gather around and eat the same meal every year since you were old enough to gum your mashed potatoes to death. Let’s explore this subject further.
It all started a long time ago, 1620, when the pilgrims left England to find freedom of speech and religion in a new land safe from the scrutiny and tyranny of their homeland. The ship, Mayflower, left Plymouth and settled near now Cape Cod 66 days later. The pilgrims had a rough start of things. They barely left their ship that winter because the conditions were too harsh to create proper lodging. Many of them suffered from scurvy and infectious diseases. Only half lived to see the next spring.
Much to the settler’s surprise, they received a visit from an English speaking Native American named Abenaki. After their visit, Abenaki returned later with another English speaker of the Pawtuxet tribe, Squanto. Squanto became a big brother to the weak and defeated pilgrims. Squanto took them under his wing and taught them how to fish, how to gather maple from the trees, which plants were poisonous, and how to grow corn. Then he helped the newly settled villagers to create an alliance with a neighboring Wampanoag tribe. This union lasted over 50 blissful years and is sadly the only recorded harmonious period between English settlers and Native Americans.
In 1621, the Europeans hauled a successful crop. They were so ecstatic that they planned a large party for the Native Americans in celebration of their generosity. I hate to break it to you but there is no record of there being a cooked turkey at this feast. A shocking revelation, I’m sure. They did however go hunting and brought back three deer for the feast. Poor Bambi’s mom. Sigh and sniff. The party was a huge hit. They had so much fun that it lasted for three days. THREE. I can’t even party for 3 hours. The festivities became tradition and mainly celebrated in the North until Abraham Lincoln made it a National Holiday in 1863. Now we can all reap the benefits of an excuse to overindulge. It’s downright patriotic.