Thank Heaven For Thanksgiving!

Thank Heaven For Thanksgiving!

Alayna Robertson, Staff Writer

Thank heaven for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a nationally celebrated holiday in the U.S. This holiday is most known for spending time with loved ones, eating delicious food, and participating in fun traditions. But, how did this holiday start? And, how much has this holiday changed over time?

The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag tribe had a three-day autumn feast–likely not even in November. This feast occurred as a result of the Pilgrims having their first-ever successful harvest with the help of the Wampanoag tribe; to show their gratitude for each other, they threw a feast. As a coastal colony, seafood was plentiful: cod, bass, eel, and shellfish. Wildfowl–such as geese and ducks–would also have been an easy target along the shore. And, in the woods were an abundance of deer for venison. The colonists brought over with them such vegetables as carrots and cabbage; however, the flint corn of the day was purely a Native American addition and was eaten as corn bread or porridge. Yum, right?

Where’s the turkey? Where’s the pie? How about those mashed potatoes? Well, they hadn’t been brought those spuds over from Spain yet. And, what! No Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup invented yet either to make green bean casserole?  Clearly, the array of food  served then is very different from what is served at traditional Thanksgiving dinners today. Even though turkeys were native to America (and not Turkey), history shows that the they didn’t make it to the table until years later. Along the way, these foods became synonymous with Thanksgiving: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and of course, pies…apple, pumpkin, pecan. Yet, as the face of America continues to change, so do its foods. Cultural dishes from Mexico, India, Korea, Germany, Japan, and every other nation across the world can now be found on the Thanksgiving menu in many homes.

Food isn’t the only thing that has evolved from the first Thanksgiving, either; the activities that accompany the day have, too. During the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe were believed to have played games like hubbub, cobb’s castle, and foot races. The most popular after-dinner activity that Americans partake in today mostly consists of either watching or playing football with one another or enjoying the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. Oh, let’s not forget the obligatory nap time in the recliner!

While the foods and games themselves may have changed over time, one aspect that has always remained the same is the reason for gathering. Thanksgiving is filled with lots of yummy treats and entertaining games, but it’s also filled with lots of love. Sophomore Marlee Jackson has plenty of good times with her friends and family on this day. “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday,” states Jackson. “My family comes over, we talk, take pictures, and eat turkey and pie–it’s great!” Like Jackson, sophomore Monya Gilliam spends this time with her loved ones. At her Thanksgiving, they enjoy making food, watching T.V., and playing fun games together. “While we eat, we usually watch the parade,” claims Gillam. “Then, we go outside, and I watch my cousins play football.” 

Thanksgiving has evolved significantly over time, but the meaning behind it has stayed almost the exact same. It is a fruitful time in the year to express how thankful one is for all that he or she has been given in this world–and to celebrate that fact with loved ones!