What you were not taught about Thanksgiving



Ariel Kerschenheiter, Copy Editor

Thanksgiving is a holiday that the majority of Americans celebrate. It is associated with family, food, and football. However, it was not always this way. The first Thanksgiving was very different from what we celebrate today.

When the Pilgrims arrived in the United States, they did not know how to plant their crops. However, some Native Americans helped the Pilgrims plant their crops and showed them what plants were good to eat. Because of this, the Pilgrims had a successful harvest. To celebrate, they threw a big feast that would later be known as the first Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving, however, was not exactly like how we were taught in elementary. First of all, there is no proof that the Pilgrims even invited the Native Americans. There are written records from the day, but there was no mention of inviting the Native Americans in the book. We actually do not know how the Native Americans arrived at the feast, but we do know that they were there.

Secondly, the first Thanksgiving was not a giant party. Although the feast lasted three days, it was mainly for religious observance because the Pilgrims wanted to thank their Lord for the successful harvest. Also, this was not technically the first Thanksgiving. Native Americans and Europeans alike have been celebrating successful harvests for decades before this feast.

Finally, the friendship between the Native Americans and Pilgrims did not last long after this celebration. The colonizers brought diseases from Europe that the Native Americans could not fight. Because of this, a majority of the Native Americans died of smallpox. When the Pilgrims arrived, they found empty fields where the dead Native Americans had lived. They claimed this land as their own and began to colonize it.

These misconceptions cause people to believe that Thanksgiving should not be celebrated. Some Native Americans in the United States feel that schoolchildren are hidden from the truth of Thanksgiving because they are taught that Pilgrims and Native Americans were best friends. Others think that we should not celebrate a holiday that marks the massacre of the Native Americans. However, some argue that our Thanksgiving celebrates the successful harvest instead.

Truthfully, Thanksgiving was not a national holiday until 1863. There were never actually any plans for it to become a holiday until a woman wrote to Lincoln many times, claiming that the United States had too few holidays. That is when Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. This means that Thanksgiving was not originally about turkey, friendship, or colonization. It was created to please the American people with an extra day off of work.

Thanksgiving is one of the most misconceptualized holidays in the United States for many reasons. From first grade to high school, we are never really taught what actually happened all those years ago. Hopefully, one day, we will all have a clear image of the first Thanksgiving and what happened afterword.