Thanksgiving is one of the USA's most sacred holidays, right up there with the 4th of July. It conveniently occurs on the "last Thursday in November" each year. Not only does this day mark the official beginning of the Holiday Shopping Season, it is also one of the key elements in the country's national mythology. Oppressed pioneers, "The Pilgrims" arrive on the savage shores of Plymouth, Massachusetts, desiring only religious freedom. After a tough year of overcoming countless adversities, they rejoice with a festival of giving thanks to G*d, and eating a lovely dinner with family and friends, and of course some kindly Indians.
The reality is a little different.
Every schoolchild in the USA has been taught that the Pilgrims invited the local Indians to a major feast after surviving their first year in "New England". In 1620 the English ship Mayflower landed at a place to be named Plymouth, delivering 102 right-wing Christian extremists. By today's standards, this would be a group of hardcore Christian lunatics, isolated in the mountains somewhere, far from the sinful world, where the Anti-Christ is already running the show and the Rapture was supposed to have happened a few months ago.
This English crew was kicked out of England not because of "religious intolerance", but because these "Puritans" were such assholes. Imagine England of Shakespeare's time. Music, cakes & ale, tea & crumpets, wenches, sex and ribaldry were the order of the day, and were about all that any normal people cared about. Good times! Then you have these fucking Puritans, wearing only black, walking around all gloomy, since music, dancing, non-married "lustful glances", and basically every fun thing they could think of were considered forbidden. You couldn't whistle a tune or tap your foot if you heard one; if you weren't married, you couldn't even look in the same direction as a person of the opposite sex. They would punish each other with bizarre penalties for any violations of their law. They made the Taliban look like Japanese tourists.
The original Native people of this stretch of shoreline had already been killed off. In 1614, a British expedition had landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox behind. Three years of this epidemic wiped out around 95% percent of the inhabitants of the coast, destroying most villages completely.
A thrilling tale of survival
The Puritans built their town of Plymouth near the deserted ruins of an Indian village. They ate from abandoned cornfields grown wild. Only one Indian named "Squanto" was around the place - he had spent the last few years as a slave to the kindly English and gentle Spanish in Europe. Squanto spoke English and taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and how to catch fish until the first harvest. Squanto also helped the colonists negotiate a peace treaty with the few remaining people of the nearby Wampanoag tribe.
In celebration of their good fortune, the colony's governor declared a three-day feast of Thanksgiving after that first harvest of 1621. The Pilgrims were very lucky that most of the Indians in their area had already been sent to Hell, and they gave thanks for this.
The scheming begins
Many more religious nutcases began to arrive, taking land and enslaving Indians to help them farm it. By 1637 there were about 2,000 settlers. They pushed out from the coast and decided to remove the inhabitants. In the coming decades, these new settlers would form armies and go out raiding and destroying Indian villages, just to get them the fuck out of the way so Civilization could begin. One of the settlers wrote,
—Puritan, celebrating the Pequot Massacre, 1637.
By 1676, the colonists declared an official "day of public thanksgiving," saying, "there now scarce remains a name or family of the savages that are not slain, captivated or fled." By this time, the Puritans had destroyed the Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief "King Philip" was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull is still hung on display 150 years later. A Massachusetts law of 1695, the same year in which the Puritans of Salem were burning
teenage girls EVERYONE to death for being "witches", gave colonists permission to kill Indians at will, declaring it was "lawful for any person that shall find any Indians traveling or skulking in any of the towns or roads to kill them as they may or can."
A couple of hundred years later, President Abraham Lincoln, just after ordering the Union army to wipe out some pesky Johnny Rebs during the Civil War, declared Thanksgiving to be a legal National Holiday. For the Union that is; for years former Confederate states refused to celebrate Thanksgiving as it was a Yankee holiday.
Since that time, as most of the USA's original inhabitants are either fabulously wealthy running casinos or dirt-poor, living in broken-down trailers, Thanksgiving has morphed into a somewhat mandatory day when as many friends and/or family-members as possible are forced to gather at someone's comfortable home, to spend a whole day cooking a turkey, chit-chat about meaningless nonsense, re-live personal and family traumas from years and decades ago, and watch football games, even if one seriously hates football. Then, when all the food is ready, everyone sits fake-nicely around the table and fills their already-obese faces with as much food as they can possibly shove in. Indeed, most Americunts no longer call this Thanksgiving, in favor of the less-potentially-offensive term of Turkey Day. After this gluttonous orgy, and after a drunken uncle or two get into a fist-fight, and a child breaks a valuable antique, and two other children fight about the Nintendo, every one puts on their size XXXL sweaters and goes for a nice Family Thanksgiving WalkTM around the block. This takes over an hour, as many of the adults have to stop and rest every 10 meters or so and smoke a cigarette. Returning to the house, everyone has several additional helpings of dessert, including ice cream and pie, until there is absolutely no food left in the house.
The alternative approach to a modern Thanksgiving is often chosen by people who want to receive special God-points for being extra-nice to "those less fortunate". These do-gooders go on down to the local homeless shelter or church-based soup kitchen, and spend the afternoon serving a Thanksgiving DinnerTM to "The Homeless". This meal always bears a striking resemblance to ordinary jail food, perhaps with a somewhat larger amount of imitation "mashed potatoes" or applesauce. This is fine with the throngs of unfortunate diners, nearly all of whom are crackheads or meth addicts or hardcore alcoholics, and can't really taste the food anyway. Afterwards, the do-gooders go to a fine restaurant, where they have prearranged for an elaborate Thanksgiving meal to be prepared. They have done such a good deed this Holiday Season, one that will take them through the year secure in the knowledge of their virtue.
And now to the shops
The next morning, "The Day After Turkey Day", is known to be the biggest shopping day of the year, and the launching of the Holiday Season marketing blitz. Many of the women will be seen at the shopping centers before dawn, queued up for early-opening stores, ready to max out the remaining credit cards yet again. And what are they buying? Thousands of dollars "worth" of toys and gadgets and electronics and other expensive shit, to help bolster the U.S. economy, and to maintain the illusion that gives their lives meaning.
And that's the story of Thanksgiving.
Typical Thanksgiving Meal
2008 MACY'S RICKROLL!1!!!ONE!!
Galleries Of Festively Plump Goodness
- Native Americans
- Shawn Woolley
- Black Friday
- Stuffed - A charming tale for the Thanksgiving season from a master of the written word.
- The First Thanksgiving
- The Turkey
- Adorable online Thanksgiving games
- Thanksgiving and the Rapture
- Thanksgiving is rational. And moral.
is part of a series on
[Go Live One]
|Featured article November 27, 2008|
|Featured article November 22 & November 23, 2012|
Fuck The Police
|Featured article November 22 & November 23 2016|