I asked my friend who hates Thanksgiving why he hates it and he said because it is a holiday based on gluttony. But every culture has a harvest festival, I said, every culture has feasts. Since time immemorial. Thanksgiving is just the latest version. The problem with it, by my thinking, I continued, is that feasting doesn’t make sense any more. It made sense during times of scarcity and hunger, but in an era of overabundance and overconsumption it seems excessive. Which is not to say we have eliminated hunger, but we live in a strange world where you can be both obese and starving at the same time. For lack of nutrition.
Lots of other holidays that have a less component, candy, mostly, like Halloween and Valentine’s Day. And of course there are birthday cakes. But sugar isn’t a special treat any more. It is something we have too much of and should probably avoid. But to my friend’s objection: I said, That’s just the food part! I said. I like the gathering of friends and family part, and the gratitude.
Here’s a NY Times article that debunks many of the Thanksgiving myths we grew up with in school, its possible origins in genocide or enslavement, and the myth of the Pilgrim. The Pilgrim! I didn’t know this, for example:
It’s been taught that the Pilgrims came because they were seeking religious freedom, but that’s not entirely true, Mr. Loewen said.
The Pilgrims had religious freedom in Holland, where they first arrived in the early 17th century. Like those who settled Jamestown, Va., in 1607, the Pilgrims came to North America to make money, Mr. Loewen said.
“They were also coming here in order to establish a religious theocracy, which they did,” he said. “That’s not exactly the same as coming here for religious freedom. It’s kind of coming here against religious freedom.”Also, the Pilgrims never called themselves Pilgrims. They were separatists, Mr. Loewen said. The term Pilgrims didn’t surface until around 1880.
There is a constant unearthing of truths obscured by myths. Bogus histories and bullshit. Thus, the National Day of Mourning.
There is nothing wrong with gratitude and gathering, and even occasional feasting, which also have a long history. Happy Thanksgiving!
3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving debunked”
For me, it’s about who is at the table, not what is on the table. I was grateful to be with my small family and raise a glass to those who will not longer be with us. Loss makes gratitude a little sweeter. Gratitude makes loss a little easier.
We let the pilgrim myths go a long time ago. Good riddance to that stuff!
I feel like I’ve been put in a wonderful way-back machine. A blog? Interesting writing? Comments? I know. I’m so old. But it’s nice. And this is a great piece; I enjoyed it and even learned something. If only I could subscribe via an RSS feed. Oh, and by the way, I came here weirdly because I’m doing a data project for a media company. I was thinking about Hunch (particularly the deep content recos when you connected it to Netflix). I would love to ask you about that if I felt like taking a start-up trip down memory lane. Cheers!
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