Boston, Washington (19/11 – 50)
Thanksgiving, a celebration intended to express gratitude or give thanks for the bounty at the end of the harvest season. It was thus codified, by President George Washington, who declared it a national holiday in the newly-minted United States of America in 1789. Canada followed suit, Canadians being notorious followers. Washington decreed this celebration would fall on the fourth Thursday in November, not being able to look into the future and see that that is the day after the greatest tragedy to befall the nation in modern times: President John F. Kennedy’s fateful November 22 trip to Dallas, where he would get his brains blown out by parties still unidentified, conveniently followed by the rise of the modern surveillance state.
Thanksgiving 2023 occurs on Thursday, November 23. The day after Thanksgiving Day is known as “Black Friday”, and unofficially marks the start of the Christmas holiday season, and the rampage of shopping. You can get killed in the stampede, if you do not avoid the eager masses swamping the Dollar Stores. Many believe these are the End Times, and are wearing out their credit cards.
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday when family members, many of whom deeply dislike one another, force themselves to gather, pretend geniality, and eat a mammoth meal. Stomach medicine sales surge the day after. Thanksgiving Day is indeed a busy time on American streets, similar to Eid in Indonesia or Imlek or Chinese New Year in the Middle Kingdom, when citizens pause for a moment in their delirious hunt for money to go through the motions.
The Thanksgiving Day legend dates the celebration from the time enterprising Europeans invaded the American continent, a gun in one hand and the Bible in the other, having been severely persecuted in the old country on account of their peculiar religious convictions. The somewhat apocryphal story is that the radical Christian Europeans who were known as the “Pilgrims” invited members of local Native American Indian tribes to join them for a dinner party, in 1621.
These recent uninvited migrants from Europe had encountered difficulties in cultivating crops in the strange soils of the New World. Thus the native Americans, taking pity on the innocents (many of whom had starved to death, in early colonies) patiently taught them how to farm. The Pilgrims grudgingly invited these Native Americans, whom they considered pagan savages, to a dinner party, as a way of thanking them for their help. Next, the newcomers, breeding like rabbits, stole all the Indian land and went to war against any aborigines who did not submit to the rule of the Republic. Thus began the American custom of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Foods customarily served by overworked housewives (many also working the fields, caring for children and fighting predators) are heavy: turkey, breads, potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Thus the country has turned into fatty-land, with 20% of the American population dangerously obese and suffering from all that good eating.
Thanksgiving celebrations have lost much of their original religious significance, in many American households; folks just want to dig in and shovel down the eats. Turkey, a Thanksgiving staple so ubiquitous it has become all but synonymous with the holiday, may or may not have been on offer when the Pilgrims hosted the inaugural feast in 1621. The President of the United States of America customarily “pardons” one turkey every Thanksgiving, so the bird is saved from the slaughter.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans will be eating the hapless turkey—roasted, baked or deep-fried—on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation (strangely enough, none of its members are turkeys). Foreigners visiting during the celebration are astonished at the volume of stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie the locals stuff into their bellies. Each plate would feed a family of five in Cambodia.
Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the homeless millions, representing the increasingly expanding dark face of post-modern capitalism.