Thanksgiving: You’ve Got it All Wrong

By: Caia Bevins

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It is that wonderful time of year when we wake up late, watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade in our pajamas, and eat a lot of food. This is a tradition that has been going on for centuries, or at least people think it has.

It actually wasn’t made an official holiday until 1789 by George Washington, and it wasn’t celebrated for another eighty years when Abraham Lincoln made the last Thursday of November a holiday. This holiday wasn’t Thanksgiving, though; it was just a holiday Franklin D. Roosevelt moved it to the third Thursday another eighty years later after that and made holiday Thanksgiving two years later in 1941. This is the day that we celebrate Thanksgiving today. Confusing, right?

Well, it gets worse. Did you know that turkey wasn’t even considered a Thanksgiving dish until the late 1800s? While it may have been at the original Thanksgiving in 1621, it would have also been served with other poultry, or it may not have even been there at all. We don’t actually know. The only reason that Turkey is synonymous with Thanksgiving is that a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale wanted to have a modern menu for this dinner and shared it with the readers of Godey’s Lady Book, a magazine for women.

Now, if you remember, Thanksgiving wasn’t a holiday at this time so having a Turkey for Thanksgiving is basically a tradition grounded on a magazine article published one hundred fifty years ago.

Now, you’re probably sitting there thinking that your life is a lie, and I do apologize, but I’ve got some more interesting stuff to talk about. For example, there is no record of the Native Americans being invited to Thanksgiving. That’s right. The only reason that they were there is that the pilgrims were firing their guns in celebration, and Massasoit thought they were being attacked. He sent people to aid the Pilgrims and happened upon the feast. The Pilgrims then invited them to join, and it became a symbol of peace between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. I hope you have learned a little bit about the holiday we’re all about to celebrate, and if you go home, you can impress your family with your newfound, relatively useless knowledge about Thanksgiving. Have a great holiday!

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