When you think of thanksgiving, you think of a table full of a delicious meal, a set of happy faces sitting across it, and a warm and cozy fireplace. It is a national holiday in the United States of America which is celebrated every year in November as a shared autumn feast. In 2021, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on the 25th of November. The first Thanksgiving was observed in the year 1621 in Plymouth by the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans by sharing an autumn harvest feast, that now is considered the first Thanksgiving celebration. After that, thanksgiving was celebrated by individual colonies for nearly two centuries. Abraham Lincoln was the first one to declare Thanksgiving as a National Holiday and observe it every day in the month of November. Read more Best Thanksgiving Puns.
First Thanksgiving at Plymouth
Thanksgiving has an interesting history of adventure and chronicle. Numerous texts and history books have talked about the origin of thanksgiving as a holiday feast. In the year 1620, a ship named Mayflower left Plymouth, England which had 102 passengers primarily consisting of religious people seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and where they could have land ownership. After 66 days of the continuous sea voyage, they drooped their anchor near Cape Cod at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later while they were crossing Massachusetts Bay, the pilgrims were pretty amazed at the place and there they began establishing the village of Plymouth. There they were greeted by an Englishman who along with another Native American taught the pilgrims to grow corn, catch fish and extract sap from maple trees. They also helped the pilgrims come to an agreement with the local tribe of Wampanoag there marking an example of harmony between the Englishmen and the Native Americans. In November, the then Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and where the pilgrims along with the chief of the Wampanoag tribe were also invited. In the year 1623, the pilgrims observed their second thanksgiving celebration to observe an end of a drought. In the year 1817, New York was the first state to announce an annual Thanksgiving holiday followed by others. The renowned author Sarah Josepha Hale was given the nickname of “The Mother of Thanksgiving.” for her contribution in the form of a campaign that she started for establishing thanksgiving as a national holiday.
The Canadian Thanksgiving
Although Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Canada it’s pretty much different than that of America and also has a different history altogether. America celebrates Thanksgiving in November whereas Canada celebrates it in October The ritual of thanksgiving in Canada was started by English explorer Martin Frobisher to thank God for granting them safe passage through the wilderness of the New World in the year 1578. Canadians are given a day off to celebrate this holiday. The food and festivities of the Canadian thanksgiving are quite similar to that of the American one. The family unites and celebrates it with a delicious meal with a cheerful conversation.
Rituals and Traditions of Thanksgiving Day
When started, thanksgiving was more of a religious ritual which now has converted into a festival of merrymaking and get-together of the family. Football, turkey, thanksgiving parade is what thanksgiving is all about. Communities have also developed another ritual for showing gratitude where the people write down the things they are thankful for on a piece of paper and later read out loud in front of everyone else. New York during thanksgiving seems to attract a lot of people who come to watch Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Parade. This parade is comprised of bands, performers giant balloons, etc. This parade brings in color and festivity during the holiday. Another ritual that followed from time immemorial is that of roasting a whole turkey for the day. Over 90% of Americans eating the bird on the holiday is a normal thing in the States. Another major thanksgiving tradition includes donating food and other essentials to the shelter homes or the less fortunate ones. The idea of Americans eating turkeys is somehow related to the fact that the colonists back then hunted a lot of wild turkeys as they were abundantly available and easy for a protein-oriented meal.
There are also plenty of weather folklores related to thanksgiving that the people widely follow and believe. Some of them are:
- Thunder in November indicates the coming year to be fertile and reproductive.
- When the winter is early, it will not be late.
- Turkeys perched on trees and refusing to descend is a sign of snowfall
- As of November 21st, so is the winter
- If there is ice in November that will bear a duck, there will be nothing thereafter but sleek and muck.
Thanksgiving In Literature
From time immemorial thanksgiving has been a part of American culture, reuniting families. No wonder it is a part of so many books and stories. Some of them are:
- Thanksgiving: An Investigation of a Pauline Theme ~ David W. Pao
- Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols ~ Edna Barth and Ursula Arndt
- The First Thanksgiving Feast~ Joan Anderson
- An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving~ Louisa May Alcott
- Book of Thanksgiving: Jessica Faust and Jacky Sach
- The Pilgrims and Pocahontas: Rival Myths of American Origin
Thanksgiving has also taken place in many short as well as long poems. Some of them are:
- Thanksgiving by Ed Blair
- The Selkirk Grace by Robert Burns
- A Thanksgiving Dinner by Maude M. Grant
- Thanksgiving Day by Emily Dickinson
- The Pilgrims Came by Annette Wyne
- Thanksgiving by Edgar Albert Guest
Thanksgiving has also been a well-known subject for famous paintings.
Some of them are:
- ‘The Thankful Poor’ by Henry Ossawa Tanner was created in 1894 as a part of his private collection. The painting has one old man sitting on the left side of a small table with a small boy on his opponent with few empty crockeries lying here and there. Both the old man and the boy look distressed and tired.
- ‘Catching the Thanksgiving Turkey’ by Grandma Moses was created in 1943 as a part of her private collection. The painting is based on a scenario of a village at the foot of a hill during the snowfall and a couple of men running around trying to catch turkeys.
- ‘Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell. This painting shows a happy family talking to each other around the dining table and a woman with a tray of a huge roasted turkey in it with an old man behind her. This painting shows the get-together of a family during the holiday and how this has been a tradition of love.
- ‘Thanksgiving’ by Doris Lee. This painting was created in 1935 as a part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. This painting shows a busy kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. The kitchen shows women performing household works of baking, rolling, cleaning crockeries, etc.
Thanksgiving is incomplete with the thanksgiving meal and it is considered as the most widely followed ritual across America. The Protestants on the other hand observe it more religiously. They have an inclination towards the harvest festival of Thanksgiving. But on the whole, the celebratory meal is a must. Although turkey was not a part of the menu of the first thanksgiving festival, it was later added and since then it has been a huge part of Thanksgiving meal. Along with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dressing, corn, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pies are also part of the feast. Thanksgiving is a family-oriented festival, many people travel far distances to observe this day with their families. Apart from the meal, many churches hold a special Thanksgiving Day service to offer their thanks to God. There is also a fun tradition included during the family meal which is breaking the turkey bone and whoever gets the larger piece gets to make a wish.
Thanksgiving in Different Countries
- As mentioned already, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in a similar way as in America which marks the successful harvest of the French settlers in Canada. This celebration takes place in October.
- The Netherlands celebrates Thanksgiving Day by offering service to honor the pilgrims that lived in Leiden before settling in Plymouth
- Thanksgiving in Germany is celebrated in October which consists of festivities like family meals and religious traditions
- The Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan is observed on account of celebrating labor and production and offering thanks to them.
The Thanksgiving Puns
The thanksgiving puns are an important part of the fun that the day is consisted of. The whole family can crack these puns and spend time with laughter and happiness. After all, a good laugh after a heavy meal is all we need. Most of the puns of thanksgiving are associated with the menu of the celebration. Here is a collection of some famous thanksgiving puns:
- Yes, pecan. It is associated with pecan pie.
- It Doesn’t get any butter than this.
- Eat, drink and cranberry.
- Not to be corny, but thanksgiving is the best
- I yam what I yam.
- What is the turkey’s favorite type of tree? The poul-tree
- What do you call a sarcastic turkey? A smir-key!
- Being with family makes everything butter.
- Butter pass the stuffing my way.
- Piece out.
- Oh snap, “said the wishbone.”
- And they lived apple-y ever after.
- Don’t marsh my mellow
- Gobble till you wobble
- Much ado about stuffing.
- I pecan’t even. Oh, yes you pe-can
- Knock, knock! Who’s there? Arthur. Arthur who? Arthur any leftovers?
- Oh, my gourd, I ate too much.
Although a large amount of Americans eagerly waits for the holiday, many of them don’t enjoy this day much. For them this is very much controversial to observe, they believe that the history of thanksgiving is not as it is circulated by most people. It is a thing to have a proper discussion of whether to believe it or not Thanksgiving for some Americans is considered to be a National Day of Mourning. Silverman, a history professor at George Washington University, in his research states that while the history goes as such like the native Americans welcomed the pilgrims and together, they had a feast celebrating their harvest which later on continued to be the feast of thanksgiving. In his book ‘This Land is their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving “, Silverman mentions that history is being misinterpreted and parts of it are edited. He argues that this misinterpreted part of history is harming the Wampanoag Indians who were the natives of Plymouth and that the arrival of the English Pilgrims damaged the lives of the Wampanoag people living there. The act of friendship and unity was rather a relationship of political alliance. This political alliance later transformed into conflict after years of exploitation of Wampanoag resources and illegal land expansion. This conflict escalated and resulted in the war called King Philip’s War. The Wampanoag were outnumbered which damaged the Wampanoag forever and the war also shifted the authority to the European arrivals.
In recent times when the majority of the people in America celebrates this holiday, the Wampanoag Community feels that they are still exploited and the world celebrated the injustice they had to bear. Few of them talk about it and most of them refrain from doing so as they think people won’t be taking their trauma in a serious manner. The myth that surrounds thanksgiving is that the friendly American Indians invited the whites to dinner, vanished, and gave up on their land to the Englishmen which the latter developed into a great nation. This myth circulated mostly adheres to the colonial tactics and policies. The history of thanksgiving includes a lot of dark themes of slavery and bloodshed which tarnishes the festivities and merrymaking of thanksgiving.
Many thanksgiving puns exist which in some way is said to hurt the sentiments of the Native Americans. Most of these aren’t intended to but acts as a medium of taking the Native American’s struggles lightly.
Amidst all, thanksgiving is a festival of showing gratitude sharing happiness, love, and laughter with your family, friends and loved ones. As they say, there is always something to be thankful for whether it be with or without the things that truly wanted. It is the starting of the holiday which ends in the New Year’s Day. This whole time is a time of merrymaking and shared laughter, baking cookies and cakes as well as pumpkin pies, roasting turkeys, letting your family know that you are thankful to have them, spending time with your friends, decorating houses, making cranberry sauce and mashing potatoes. Everything is better when you celebrate the smallest things in your life.
Thanksgiving stands for showing gratitude and speaking from a psychological point of view, showing gratitude to the people you care for can lift your spirit. It can make you realize that there is always someone for you who will always stand by you through your tough times. Thanksgiving’s ritual of a shared meal is important because along with the turkey one shares a laugh, enjoys an exciting football match with his family, or watches a thanksgiving movie together. These shared good times help in the improvement of mental health, releases anxiety helps to create memories, and also relieve od strong bonds. According to psychologists, being part of the thanksgiving dinner makes us feel that we part of something bigger than ourselves. Through these rituals, we get more connected to our roots and identify ourselves as a part of something important.
While many believe that celebrating thanksgiving is bad and is termed as dis honorary towards the Native Americans, it cannot be overlooked that other than the thanksgiving pageants of imitating the Native Americans and misinterpreting the chronicles and whitewashing it, the thanksgiving feast and festivities of shared joy, turkey, expressing gratitude helps bring families together amidst their busy schedules. This is the time of being grateful and offering service to the less fortunate which doesn’t in any way harm anyone’s feelings. Now when speaking of joy let us go back to some more thanksgiving puns.
- Let’s get basted
- Can’t nobody tell me stuffing
- Let’s give them pumpkin to talk about
- Thanksgiving has the tur-key to my heart
- That wishbone was all “oh, snap!”
- Thanksgiving is about butterball and football
- Hello Gourd-geous
- What’s a turkey’s favorite Thanksgiving food? Nothing they are already stuffed
- The gravy boat has arrived. Calories disembarking
- Yes we cran
- We’ll worry about the Christmas tree later, today is all about poul-tree
The thanksgiving riddles are also a major topic of discussion after a thanksgiving night. Some of them are:
- What’s a goldfish’s favorite holiday? Tanks- giving
- What kind of dessert do mathematicians eat on Thanksgiving? Pumpkin pi!
- What role do green beans play in a Thanksgiving dinner? The casse-role
- What do you call it when people take turns making fun of the Thanksgiving turkey- A roast
- What dish should a rich guy bring to a Thanksgiving potluck? The cash-erole
- Why did the turkey cross the road? To prove he wasn’t chicken
- I have ears but I cannot hear and I have flakes but I have no hair. What am I? Corn
- What do you call it if it’s raining turkey and birds? Fowl Weather
- I can be smashed, baked, carved and you can see me everywhere on Thanksgiving. What am I? A pumpkin
- When does Christmas come before Thanksgiving? In the dictionary
- What is Dracula’s all-time favorite holiday? Fangsgiving
- Which of the Thanksgiving beverages is considered to be sad? Apple sigh-der
A stuffed stomach, a hall full of family members, an evening beside the warm fireplace, a long never-ending conversation of bygone days, a cheering crowd watching the last intimidating moment of the football match, that’s what thanksgiving has been for many Americans. It is the time the children return to their parents and enjoy a meal of happiness and love. It’s when you realize the importance of community, family, and friends. Thanksgiving marks an important day for the affluent class to help the less fortunate ones in the community. Nothing feels than a home-cooked meal with loved ones. It’s when we gather memories, express gratitude, let our peers and relatives know their importance in our lives. Thanksgiving is much more than a holiday. It is engraved by the life lessons we need to follow in our daily lives and make every day a day of thanksgiving, without the turkey of course! Helping those in need, caring for other people, visiting our parents and relatives, sharing a meal with them, sharing our lives with them, enjoying family gatherings is what the spirit of thanksgiving is all about. It is in our hands to preserve it and teach our future generation the values of it instead of showing pictures of it.