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Thanksgiving : Real History Behind Thanksgiving

Published on 14-Sep-2022

History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the most beloved traditions in America. Every year on the 4th week of November, this day is celebrated. It's popularly based on the Autumn Harvest Feast between the Pilgrimage and the Native Americans back in 1621. The pilgrims are referred to as people who left the Church of England to practice their preferred religion. This crowd moved to America, formerly referred to as "the new world," in 1620 on a boat.

They ended up in Cape Cod in Massachusetts instead of the Hudson River due to the lack of navigational technology back then. However, a lot of Pilgrims ended up dead when they moved to Plymouth. They weren't prepared for the harsh winter of November in America as they were unfamiliar with the new environment. Before the arrival of spring, when the hunt for food could be arranged, several of the pilgrims died.

On top of that, they carried the fetal viral disease with them that spread to the Native Americans there and killed many people from the tribe. The Native Americans were reduced from 8,000 to 1500 due to the diseases. On the other hand, according to the history textbooks, after arriving in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims kidnapped a bunch of Native Americans from the Pawtuxet tribe, which was a part of the Wampanoag nation. They sent the kidnapped tribal people to England by boat. They meet a man named Squanto, who was part of the same tribe that was shipped to England, but Squanto escaped.

It's said that Squanto was very pleasant to the Pilgrims and taught them how to survive in America with basic skills like fishing and farming. Later, the Pilgrims and Native Americans decided to mutually live peacefully, side by side, by creating a peace treaty. The treaty ensured the safety and land rights of both parties equally. One night, the pilgrims went to shoot out guns after dinner, but the Wampanoag tribal leader heard the noises of the guns and rushed to the place with his people.

Upon approaching the Pilgrims, the tribe was invited to a grand feast that lasted for three days and included lots of food, sleep, and fun games. Since then, the thanksgiving tradition has been issued to celebrate the union between two groups of people. Today, Thanksgiving is a celebration of appreciation and gratitude for one another. 

However, that wasn't actually what happened. Historians claim that Thanksgiving is not the happy story taught through textbooks. The real history behind the tradition was darker. Many pilgrims died from the severe cold in America and the diseases they carried. Despite that, in spring, they were introduced to Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag tribe, by an Abenaki Native. Then Massasoit introduced the pilgrims to Squanto. Now, Squanto did help the Pilgrims to learn the technique of survival by crowing crops and hunting for food.

The tribe helped the pilgrims to fight through the winter as well, even though several of their people were dying from the diseases brought by the pilgrims. Squanto helped them to form a treaty between each other to share the land.

The following fall, the Pilgrims finally settled down and fought through the harsh cold with their food supply. They threw a humongous feast and invited Squanto and Massasoit along with about 90 of the natives, which lasted for three days. Nonetheless, that's not where it ends. The joyful 'New World' news spread back to England like wildfire, and more Pilgrims moved to America. The new people weren't respectful of the gratification between the first pilgrims and the Native Americans and claimed the land as their own. Soon it became very populated, and the angry Pilgrims started killing the Pilgrims.

The natives were intimidated by the guns of armed Pilgrims, and the Native population started declining on a large scale. The annual green corn ceremony is an important festival in indigenous society. The natives wanted to celebrate their tradition, but the new Pilgrims were against the idea as they claimed the land as their own. They completely ignored the fact that the land was initially owned by the natives and treated them cruelly. The former governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, described the sheer animosity in his journal. English army surrounded the native homes the following day of the Green Corn celebration and burned the houses with the Wampanoag families inside.

Massasoit, the head of the tribe, was killed as well, and his skull was put over a stick to put up for display that stayed there for 24 years. Others who got out of the houses were either shot to death or beaten to death. Bradford quoted this mass homicide as "Victory seemed as a sweet sacrifice." Later in 1637, a new feast was thrown to celebrate the victory of the English army and their official ownership of the land. It was an all-white party that celebrated the murder of the Natives in favor of the triumph of the Pilgrims. It is where the real tradition of 'Thanksgiving' started. 

Even after the slaying of the Wampanoag tribe, more massacres were orchestrated throughout America. In 1789 when George Washington became the first President, he made the first proclamation for thanksgiving every year. Next, in the mid of 1800s, Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National holiday to help families help each other and be grateful for one another during the Civil War. Finally, in 1941, FDR issued a bill for thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November, and it's followed till this day.


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