Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest and most celebrated holidays. It is a time of family and friends coming together to give thanks and enjoy each other’s’ company. It’s also the kick-off to the holiday season including shopping, parties, and good food. However, Thanksgiving is steeped in tradition, rooted in the colonial era. We spoke with Dr. Michelle Morris from the University of Missouri’s Department of History about how Thanksgiving was historically and currently celebrated in America. And let’s just say there has always been lots of food!
“Most Americans envision Thanksgiving as a celebration tracing back to the ‘First Thanksgiving’ in Plymouth colony in 1621,” Dr. Morris says. However, Thanksgiving as we know it today evolved more from the periodic thanksgiving feasts where Puritans and Anglicans would give thanks to God for a particular blessing. “The ‘First Thanksgiving’ was actually a party, not a religious celebration. The Pilgrims were celebrating the fact that they had just brought in a good harvest. The colonists and Indians feasted for three days and played games together…probably friendly contests involving shooting, running, and jumping.”
Today, Thanksgiving is still celebrated by large gatherings and plenty of food. The tradition also consists of what the New Englanders originally feasted on, including turkey, cranberries, and pies. However, a few traditions have been added. On the morning of Thanksgiving, families across America congregate around the TV to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. But if you are international admissions intern, Sungbin, you will experience the parade first – hand. Sungbin will spend one week taking in the sites of NYC, but he is most excited to attend the parade because he thinks it will offer the “…best American atmosphere!”
Through friends they have made on campus, Mizzou International Students have the opportunity to also participate in this hallmark tradition. Christal Hamilton, studying Public Administration, plans on going to Kansas City, MO, “I am really looking forward to spending it with my friend’s family. As an international student, experiencing the tradition with an American family is a really great experience.” Architectural design student, Bushra Khalid plans on spending the holiday in Alabama with friends and family and is most looking forward to, “…eating TURKEY!!”
At the end of the day, after being stuffed with turkey, pies, potatoes and good times, families relax, but only for a moment, before gearing up for the festivities that will lead up to Christmas Day. Of course this means more holiday TV programs, parties, shopping, of course more food, but most importantly all in the company of good friends and family.