Bite me!!

I love Thanksgiving, but I don’t for a moment think that it’s anything but a somewhat phony and artificial holiday. Since it is our only true de facto two-day holiday more than makes up for any flaws. But let’s not be fooled by the Pilgrim nonsense.

The term thanksgiving was brandished throughout US history and officially codified by Lincoln in 1863 at the behest of an activist/writer named Sara Hale. Before 1863 there was no Thanksgiving per se, but a lot of proclamations giving thanks for this and that, all called Thanksgiving. There were virtually no Thanksgiving events from the Thomas Jefferson administration until Sara revitalized the dying idea. Her rationale was that Americans didn’t have enough holidays. The Lincoln Thanksgiving was justified as a celebration of the North’s victory in winning the battle Gettysburg and had absolutely nothing to do with Pilgrims or anything of the sort. That nonsense was all reverse engineered by sentimentalists. Even the first supposed ‘Thanksgiving’ in 1621 was a three day one-shot party modeled after something called Harvest Home. It wasn’t called Thanksgiving. Harvest Home was a end of the harvest party celebrated in parts of the British Isles. This party didn’t happen again and, in fact, [as cited here], most of the invited Indian guests to the 1621 event were later butchered by the growing population of settlers.

One documented ‘Thanksgiving” [cited here] was for a one-shot celebration to be held on June 20th. 1676, Thanksgiving was used more as a generic term for taking a ad-libbed holiday. There were some references to it being an occasional homage to the Pilgrims now and then, but most people thought it that part was silly. Jefferson was particularly annoyed by the notion.

Again it was Lincoln who made it a yearly event and also made it stick to the fourth Thursday in November. It only changed for two years during the Franklin Roosevelt administration and moved up a week in hopes of stretching the Christmas buying pattern an extra week in hopes of helping the economy. It was already a known fact that Thanskgiving was the kick off to Christmas buying. A slew of half-baked traditionalists found the Roosevelt change an abomination since it somehow insulted Pilgrims or the D.A.R. or who knows who and was changed back after two years of bickering.

You can read the various links in this post and try to get a handle on this holiday which never really existed in this form until Lincoln. That said there were a few Federal proclamations declaring Thanksgiving for celebratory purposes. The first was in 1777, then randomly in 1795, 1798, 1799 and 1815. You’ll find most of these war-related.

related link:
A good history that documents a 1619 celebration too



  1. Mike Voice says:

    And Christmas is not much better.

    It was an eye-opener to me to read “The Battle For Christmas” by Stephen Nissenbaum (ISBN 0-679-74038-4).

    Most of the Christmas “traditions” which I thought were several centuries old, are in fact recent American inventions.

    Almost as disturbing as finding-out the “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” TV special (with Burl Ives as the singing snowman) which I watched every year – while growing-up – was based on a marketing jingle for Montgomery Ward! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Some people just have to put a damper on everything! Lighten up a bit and just enjoy the time with family, friends or whatever! And if you don’t want to celebrate a holiday—DON’T!

  3. John C. Dvorak says:

    I have a great time cooking heirloom turkeys and the rest of a large meal with family. But I’m not kidding myself about this holiday. I do not think I have to be deluded to enjoy the moment.

  4. Wesley McGee says:

    I don’t care where this holiday came from — it existed since before I was born, so it is ancient history — this is but one of only two national holidays in the sense everybody gets the day off to do some sort of communal ritual (the other one being Christmas). Not even Independence Day, Labor Day or Memorial Day is like that (though the latter two come close, but not for the intended reasons for the holiday, but because they bookend the summer season). This is a country spectacularly incapable of rest (we’re working longer hours and more days), and Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days of rest that I am sure will never be taken away. I can’t say that for any other day.

  5. Jens Stampe says:

    I don’t know of any tradition that does not have a rather nice myth overlaid on a rather staid history. The same is true for national treasures like the Liberty Bell, which was once effectively a commodity and has, mostly through myth-making, become a sacred relic of sorts. Debunking these things is interesting and should be done, and yet doing so does not actually have much of an effect on people’s everyday opinions.

  6. […] and I apparently bitched about this last year with a snarky, but well-rearched piece on the various iterations of […]

  7. AdmFubar says:

    “Since it is our only true de facto two-day holiday more than makes up for any flaws.”

    Two days???? whut you talkin’ about willis???

  8. Texasbacksass says:

    yeah yeah yeah yadda yadda yadda mr. unhappy.

    Try coming up with a “well-researched article to prove it was Pontius Pilot and his Nail Driving Five that hailed Jesus to the cross…it would make just as much sense as this dorkbrained article did.

  9. […] and I apparently bitched about this last year with a snarky, but well-researched piece on the various iterations of Thanksgiving. Posted at […]

  10. deowll says:

    It is tradition for people in farming communities to have a thanksgiving bash after the harvest is in. The size depended on the bounty of the harvest.

    Of course you can throw one for other reasons as well.


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