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Thanksgiving traditions in a modern world

Photo By: rockdoveblog.wordpress.com

11-13-2018

Adna Tabich, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. While it is a holiday that has been celebrated since the 17th century, plenty of people aren’t fully aware of how the First Thanksgiving actually played out.

For starters, Thanksgiving wasn’t always celebrated on one of the last Thursdays of November - rather somewhere between September and November when the fall harvest came. Many Americans probably remember growing up and going to school dressed as pilgrims for a Thanksgiving celebration to honor the first large feast that started this country at the Plymouth Colony. Often, schools today portray the First Thanksgiving in plays and storybooks like a civil dinner that celebrates living in America. In reality, however, the First Thanksgiving included guests including pilgrims that actually survived the 66-day journey to America, as well as the local Wampanoag tribe, all preparing to enter their second winter with large amounts of food from the fall harvest.

The story that is usually left out of Americans’ versions is that of the translator for the Wampanoag tribe, Squanto. Squanto was familiar with the English language as he was previously captured by the English explorers, spending much time with them as a slave, according to History.com.

Another major difference between what is thought to be tradition and what actually happened is they type of food was served. The First Thanksgiving incorporated food that could be hunted, like deer or fowl. Other staples for the first few Thanksgivings were lobster (Plymouth was set on the ocean), grapes, seal, plum, corn and herbs - but no mention of copious amounts of turkey and stuffing. In fact, Thanksgiving has evolved a lot to this day.

Thanksgiving is now consistently celebrated on the third Thursday of November, and a lot of traditions come along with it. On Thanksgiving, stereotypically Americans have certain foods that are eaten. Turkey is the number one meal that most American families serve, along with mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie, according to the Food Network.

Holden Stevanus, a junior marketing major at Behrend, says that his family serves turkey but they also tend to serve steak. And many American families are creating their own traditions just like Stevanus’.

Dino Krdzalic, a senior finance major, actually isn’t American but still partakes in this American holiday. He says his family celebrates it because, to them, it’s really about coming together and being thankful.

While Thanksgiving's origins lay in the pilgrims’ arrival to the new world, perhaps the holiday has evolved into a day to bring family together and appreciate all that this life, and this country, offers to its inhabitants. It’s interesting to see the way that Thanksgiving evolved into whatever each household wants it to be, and that it’s more of a focus on family traditions than American traditions.