What is Thanksgiving and why some Native Americans remember it?

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Festivals celebrating harvest may be found all throughout the world, and many of them date back hundreds of years. Regarding the United States of Americans , however, the Thanksgiving holiday occupies a special and deeply ingrained position in the consciousness of the nation. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Eid are all religious holidays, but for many families, this holiday is even more significant than those holidays.

According to a proclamation made by Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America in 1863, the Thanksgiving holiday was initially observed on the last Thursday of November.


A joint resolution of Congress was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941, shifting the national holiday to the fourth Thursday of the month. Thanksgiving fell on November 23, 2023.

The origins of the practice can be traced to the English settlers who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620 and were known as the Pilgrims or Pilgrim Fathers.

After leaving the Church of England in Britain, where they had faced persecution for their theological views, the Puritan separatists had previously lived in exile in the Netherlands. The Pilgrims followed a strict Bible-based brand of Christianity and disapproved of bishops, believing them to be creations of Satan.

The Pilgrim Fathers’ wives and kids

There were women and children among the 102 people that embarked on a ship known as the Mayflower on September 16, 1620. Although they are commonly referred to as the Pilgrim Fathers, children and women were also present on board. The majority of them were probably not really interested in their religion but rather were explorers looking for a new life.


It was near what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts, that the Mayflower, a three-masted ship of thirty meters (98 feet) in length, made its landing.

It was not long before the Pilgrims went to the opposite side of the harbor, where they established Plymouth Colony in December of 1620. This was due to the fact that they did not have sufficient supplies and the sandy soil was not suitable for producing crops. Due to the late arrival of the settlers as the season progressed, they were unable to sow any crops. During that first winter, they were only able to live with the assistance of the indigenous inhabitants of the Wampanoag tribe. These individuals not only gave them with food but also instructed them on how to cultivate in the area.

Indigenous remembrance day

The Wampanoag people and the settlers held a feast known as Thanksgiving over the course of three days in the fall of 1621. Turkey, corn, and sweet potatoes, all of which are foods native to the New World, were all on the table, a custom that has been carried on till the present day.

During that time period, the Wampanoag tribe and the settlers were able to coexist peacefully, which was an exceptional circumstance. Violence became an increasingly prevalent aspect of the relationship beginning in the 1630s and continuing beyond.


Because of this, Thanksgiving is a day that many Native Americans celebrate to remember the genocide that was committed by European invaders, as well as the loss of their land and their ancestors via this event.

On the other hand, the Pilgrim Fathers were not the first Europeans to settle in North America; in fact, celebrations of the harvest were already taking place before to their arrival. Despite this, the first Thanksgiving feast in the United States was held in 1621 and was celebrated by the Wampanoag tribe and the Pilgrims. This feast is considered to be the origin of Thanksgiving in the United States.

The Thanksgiving tradition of the President pardoning a turkey is a fascinating blend of history, presidential whimsy, and public spectacle. While the ritual itself has become a lighthearted part of the holiday, its origins and evolution reveal a story that spans generations.

The oft-quoted connection of Abraham Lincoln to the turkey pardon is more anecdotal than historical fact. Although Lincoln’s son, Tad, had a pet turkey named Jack, there’s no documented evidence that Lincoln officially granted a presidential pardon to a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. The practice, as we know it today, emerged much later in American history.


It wasn’t until the 20th century that the idea of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey gained traction. The genesis of the modern-day turkey pardoning ceremony is often attributed to George H.W. Bush, who formally instituted the tradition in 1989. The precise reasons behind Bush’s decision to pardon the turkey vary, with some sources suggesting it was a playful gesture to deflect attention from controversies, while others claim it was a nod to animal rights activism.

Regardless of its origin, the turkey pardon quickly became a beloved and highly publicized event. Every year, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a turkey is selected and “pardoned” by the President, sparing it from the typical fate of becoming part of a holiday feast. These turkeys often receive whimsical names and are sent to live out the rest of their days in comfort, usually on a farm or sanctuary.

However, despite this newfound lease on life, the reality for these pardoned turkeys is bittersweet. Domestic turkeys are bred for size and rapid growth, which often leads to health complications. Many of the turkeys pardoned by Presidents succumb to these health issues, passing away within a relatively short time, typically less than a year.

The irony of the situation is not lost on observers. The pardoning ceremony, intended as a symbol of compassion and goodwill, inadvertently highlights the challenges faced by domesticated turkeys bred for consumption. These birds, while granted reprieve from the Thanksgiving table, still grapple with health problems stemming from the same breeding practices that make them desirable for consumption.

This irony has sparked discussions about the ethical implications of the turkey pardon tradition. Some argue that while the gesture is lighthearted and symbolic, it underscores larger issues within the meat industry, prompting conversations about animal welfare and the ethics of mass production for consumption.

The annual turkey pardon serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness between human traditions and the impact they have on the world around us. It’s a moment that encapsulates the complexities of our relationship with animals, our cultural practices, and the unintended consequences that often accompany our actions.

As the tradition continues each year, it’s likely to prompt ongoing reflection on our treatment of animals and the choices we make regarding their welfare, all while maintaining a touch of whimsy and presidential charm during the Thanksgiving season.

Internationally: Black Friday

Absolutely! The period following Thanksgiving, especially the Friday after, has gained immense popularity in the United States as a time for family gatherings, shopping, and relaxation. This phenomenon, known as Black Friday, has evolved into a cultural tradition with significant economic and social impacts.

Thanksgiving, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, is deeply ingrained in American culture as a time for gratitude and family reunions. Given that it falls on a Thursday, it naturally creates an extended weekend for many individuals, and the Friday following Thanksgiving has become a widely recognized occasion.

The origins of Black Friday as a shopping extravaganza are rooted in the idea of kickstarting the holiday shopping season. Traditionally, retailers operated at a loss (“in the red”) for much of the year until the holiday shopping frenzy (“in the black”) turned profits. In the mid-20th century, the day after Thanksgiving became the unofficial start of this retail surge.

What began as an opportunity for businesses to attract shoppers with sales and promotions gradually transformed into a cultural event. People started to view Black Friday not just as a chance to shop for discounted items but also as a social experience. Families and friends would plan outings together, often starting in the early hours of the morning, to take advantage of doorbuster deals and limited-time offers.

The retail industry began to capitalize on this trend by extending store hours and offering increasingly enticing discounts. As a result, what was once a day of sales expanded into a multi-day event, with some retailers even starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day itself.

However, while Black Friday remains a significant part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, its prominence has shifted due to the rise of online shopping and changing consumer behaviors. Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving, has emerged as a digital counterpart to Black Friday, with online retailers offering exclusive deals and discounts.

Moreover, in recent years, there has been a growing movement to reconsider the impact of Black Friday on society. Concerns about consumerism, overconsumption, and the environmental toll of mass-produced goods have led to calls for more conscious shopping habits, such as supporting local businesses or opting for sustainable products.

The social aspect of Thanksgiving weekend continues to be a driving force for many. Families use this time to come together, sharing meals, stories, and traditions. It’s a time when people travel long distances to reconnect with loved ones, creating cherished memories and strengthening familial bonds.

In essence, while Black Friday remains a significant part of the Thanksgiving holiday for many, its meaning and impact continue to evolve. The weekend serves as a reflection of societal values, blending commerce with family time, and sparking discussions about consumer culture, sustainability, and the true essence of the holiday season.


In addition, over the course of time, it has become increasingly commercialized, much like many other traditional holidays. The Friday following Thanksgiving is commonly referred to as “Black Friday,” and it is the day that retailers begin offering promotional discounts in preparation for the Christmas shopping season. Furthermore, in contrast to the custom of eating turkey on Thanksgiving, this tradition has already spread all over the world.



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