Thanksgiving is one of the most iconic holidays in the US calendar so we take a look at this one-time harvest festival to see where it came from and what it has become
Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States where it is traditionally observed with a large family meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberries, with many Americans traveling sizable differences to gather and give thanks for their blessings in what has become just a very vague echo of its origins. However whilst it has chopped and changed a bit over the years the essence still remains true, it is a celebration of continued survival.
In essence however Thanksgiving is far more an economic holiday than a secular or religious one of giving thanks in the traditional sense. Many people eat and then instantly go online gambling sites in the US have the perfect gifts for Christmas this year. Much of the time they’re right, but the commercialization of Thanksgiving isn’t a blight upon it as much as being the point of it in the first place in a modern industrial society like the US.
The origins of Thanksgiving are somewhat disparate with the seasonal festivals of early agrarian societies already celebrating the end of the harvest simply by dint of finishing a mammoth and all important task vis-a-vis their survival as a tribe or community. These celebrations were interwoven over the centuries with the teachings of religions, the whim of governments and the greed of corporations but throughout it has retained it’s root meaning.
Thank You For Thanksgiving
- Traditions and trade come together
- Eating and shopping big components
- Economists watch gambling news will be good
The first US Thanksgiving is still argued over due mostly to poor documentation and a desire on the part of academics to sell controversial books, but despite that start in the 1620s it wouldn’t be a national holiday in the US until the 1940s when Roosevelt brought the scattered Thanksgiving holidays of many states into line with each other and created the festival we know today. He did it to lengthen the Christmas shopping period for economic reasons. It worked.
Of course giving thanks is hardly unique to the United States (although it could be argued they have quite a lot more than most to be thankful for) and around the world nations and populations celebrate their own blessings in various fashions and with different traditions the world over. The rooted connections with old harvest festivals is sometimes apparent but not every country ignores the modern industrial harvest, with Japan celebrating both labor and production in its version.
Canada, of course, has its own Thanksgiving held far earlier in the year, a result of settlers from Europe led by explorers of the new world who found still being alive in November so shocking they had a party to say thank you. There are some arguments still about which settlers and which explorer, but in the end the Canadian Thanksgiving celebrates the end of the harvest in pretty much the same way as the US and European versions do.
The US Thanksgiving celebration is centered around the meal, a massive affair of mammoth proportions with traditional foods that, perhaps slightly oddly, are almost entirely the invention of the author of Mary Had A Little Lamb who was a proponent of Thanksgiving as a national holiday for decades before it actually become one. The first Thanksgiving was noted for its venison and fish, modern day incarnations rarely include them.
The extensive seasonal sales figures for Thanksgiving meal ingredients sees huge fiscal transactions across the retail and wholesale markets with 20% of all cranberries consumed on Thanksgiving, which isn’t entirely surprising given they taste positively foul, as does turkey but I suppose that tastes a little more fowl than foul. Given the original meal had venison it seems a shame that 91% of Americans eat something as bland as turkey when giving thanks.
The annual migration of Americans at Thanksgiving raises the number of people traveling by 54% with some 45 million Americans expected to travel on a day that for many will be marked by the sort of travel experiences that just make you thankful to be out of the car. The vast majority of Thanksgiving travelers choose the car as their mode of transport, despite the fact that average journey distances are slowly increasing.
This is perhaps because air travel is still a ghastly experience of pat-downs, shopping mall departure lounges and cramped seating, the TSA ensuring no one has any fun whatsoever whilst traversing the nation’s skies. Travel at Thanksgiving is thankless and very rarely results in anything more than people being thankful they only have to do it once a year…and then they remember Christmas. This is why people drink so much at Thanksgiving, they’re trying to forget the travel.
When Roosevelt standardized Thanksgiving for all states of the union, causing Texas to have to give up one of the two it had collected over the years, he did so for purely economic reasons. The elongation of the Christmas shopping period was to be desired at the time (the early 1940s) and since then no one has seen fit to change what has become the busiest shopping weekend of the year, with people shopping both in malls at online using their mobile betting it’ll be easier than fighting their way through the crowds.
Today the Friday after Thanksgiving has its own name, as does the following Monday. Black Friday and Cyber Monday now concentrate a vast quantity of spending into just a very few days with 2013 seeing a spend of nearly seven and a half billion dollars in just five days. So much so that bricks-and-mortar retailers now open their doors on Thanksgiving itself trying to compete with those who after dinner hit the internet betting in the US there are some bargains still to be found online. Will this year be as big or bigger than last year? We’ll have to wait a few days to see.