Arts & Culture Commentary

Thanksgiving: It Has Origins After All

By Abby Bishop

Most people have heard the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, but let’s recap. In September of 1620, a ship full of English separatists boarded a ship and headed to The New World, which we now know as America. The treacherous trip took 66 grueling days full of sickness and death. The ship finally anchored near Cape Cod. The Pilgrims crossed the Massachusetts Bay then began work on a village at Plymouth.

During the first cold, long winter, many of the settlers remained on the ship where they suffered from disease outbreak and exposure. Many did not survive. When spring finally came, only half of the original 102 remained. When the ship-livers returned to shore, they were greeted by a native that spoke in English. He later returned with another Native, Squanto. These natives helped the settlers plant crops and hunt game. They also helped the Pilgrims form an alliance with the Wampanoag tribe.

After the harvest, there was an abundance. The Pilgrims celebrated. Alongside their native friends, they had a large meal and party that lasted three days. How great does that sound? On the menu were lobster, seals, and swans, according to The History Channel. Although today pies and cakes are a staple for Thanksgiving dinner, the Pilgrims did not have ovens and the sugar supply had dwindled significantly.

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The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving periodically throughout the next few years, however, it did not become a national holiday until 1863 that it was declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. For many, Thanksgiving is a time for food, family, and football.

The most common dishes served on Thanksgiving are turkey or ham (or both), mashed potatoes (or potatoes of some sort), pies, cakes, and all kinds of other baked goods. What are your families’ Thanksgiving traditions?

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