Thanksgiving: a brief and slightly sarcastic history

Thanksgiving: given the information that practically any American TV show has given us, we know that it has something to do with food, and specifically turkey. But what makes this day so important for the American people?

The origins of Thanksgiving trace all the way back to the first American colonists. As those of you who paid attention in history class will remember, some of the first American colonists were English separatists that arrived on a boat called the Mayflower in 1620. These hundred lonely adventurers, called the Pilgrims, were not as well-prepared as one might have hoped. When winter 1620 came, they were left with no food, because of a failed harvest. Luckily, the Native Americans were kind enough to teach the colonists what crops to grow and how to catch different kinds of seafood. The next year, harvest was significantly more successful. Together with their new Native American friends, the Pilgrims feasted on their successful harvest.

This occasion is now referred to as the first Thanksgiving Day. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the national holiday of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” on the last Thursday of November. Since then, Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated as a federal holiday.

But where does the famous Thanksgiving turkey come from? Sadly, nobody knows. It is certain that no turkeys were eaten at the harvest feast in 1621. But no one is quite sure when the turkey made its entrance into the thanksgiving tradition. Some blame it on the turkey hunt that preceded the harvest feast in 1621, others blame Queen Elizabeth I, who ordered an extra goose to celebrate the sinking of a Spanish fleet. This goose may have inspired early settlers to roast a turkey.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Any excuse is a good enough reason to get together with family and eat you way into obesity.

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