Why we eat what we do on Thanksgiving

Showcasing an array of all the foods you can think of, this holiday is a perfect example of how so many people’s feasts are so different. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to show appreciation to everyone you are thankful for.

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Showcasing an array of all the foods you can think of, this holiday is a perfect example of how so many people’s feasts are so different. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to show appreciation to everyone you are thankful for.

Gabrielle Phillips, Staff Reporter

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  Turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and stuffing are all traditional Thanksgiving foods. When you sit down to eat on this hungry holiday, you are probably not thinking about the historical background of these food items. Have you ever thought about who assigned these foods as Thanksgiving normalities?

  Thanksgiving can be traced all the way back to the 1600s, and we can all guess that the pilgrims were not eating pumpkin pie. Even though the first Thanksgiving was in 1621, there were wild turkey in the Plymouth area. The best evidence showing that there was an actual feast was a book written by a colonist. Edward Winslow was the primary author of the book, Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Although Thanksgiving is more commercially advertised than other celebrations, the holiday was not nationally acclaimed until the 19th century. In this book, Winslow does not state a specific type of meat that was eaten during the feasts, but he does talk about ducks and geese that could have possibly been eaten. 

  Thanksgiving has not been around for as long as many other holidays, and this celebration was popularized in the 19th century by presidents. They would only declare a celebration on certain occasions, and many of these celebrations included turkey. Because turkey is such a large bird, and so many people enjoy the taste of it, the bird was made into a staple of the feasts. 

  Contrary to popular belief, pilgrims were able to enjoy stuffing. But instead of our traditional recipes including flour and butter, they would use chestnuts, herbs, and chunks of onions. Pumpkin pie even has ties to the original Thanksgiving as well. According to Eating in America: A History, Native Americans were already using this orange treat as a dessert. The pumpkin was melted over a fire and then mixed with maple syrup or honey. Although it is pretty much impossible that cranberry sauce was eaten at the first celebration, it was popularized during the Civil War. Soldiers thought that this unique food was so good that they demanded that it would be given to them during their feast. Sweet potatoes also became popularized in the South because of how easy it was to grow them. The versatility of this vegetable created a Thanksgiving go-to. Sweet potatoes were then turned into a delicious dessert and made it irresistible on this holiday. Sophomore Sulayman Samba said, “I like sweet potatoes because they are just so filling, and they warm your mouth with something magical that is indescribable.” Even though this holiday is most commonly known for the food, remember to always be thankful for what and who you have. 

 

 

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