By Claudia Bonitatibus
The early colonists of America used to offer thanks for various reasons. When there was a great event such as a military victory or a great rain and subsequent harvest following a long drought, they would take a day or more to give thanks. A thanksgiving was a religious day when people would thank God for his blessings.
Sophomore Jiwon Choi describes how Thanksgiving is perceived differently in America today. “I think it’s more of a tradition and a family gathering. I know that in the past they celebrated Thanksgiving as a day to give thanks to God. However, I think that people nowadays just use it as an excuse to meet up with their relatives.”
Thanksgiving is much more than just the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag sitting down to a feast, but since that is what is directly associated with Thanksgiving these days, many people have a sour feeling about the holiday. These people feel that Thanksgiving is just another holiday like Columbus Day – a day that celebrates the conquest of America and the massacre of Native Americans.
“I feel the same way about it as I feel about Columbus Day, it is pretty much in celebration of the destruction of a people, more or less, so I personally don’t like it at all,” said Sophomore Soledad Alfaro-Allah.
Another criticism of today’s observance of the holiday is that Thanksgiving has been trivialized. It has been turned into just another extension of the Christmas holiday season, especially because of the commercial focus of Black Friday, a day that has become just as important to many as the feast day itself. This is a recent development. During The Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth in order to start the Christmas holiday sales earlier in hopes of boosting the economy.
“Since Black Friday is directly after Thanksgiving, I feel like people are more concerned about sales or reduced prices than Thanksgiving Day itself,” said Jiwon Choi.
In America it is hard not to be caught up in the commercialism or the historical mythology, or even the athletic boosterism of game day (yet another criticism of Thanksgiving), but it is always worthwhile to remember the spirit that sets this day apart – just as the early settlers realized, there is a lot to be thankful for in our everyday lives. Let’s not forget this.