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Thanksgiving is upon us. The leaves are starting to bronze and fall with the autumn winds. Exams are piling up and essay deadlines are looming in the background. But at the end of this tunnel, is the smell of a beautiful home-cooked meal, the warm embrace of family and friends and the sound of music. (No pun intended.)
It's that time of year again. The holidays are around the corner, work has started to pile up just enough to ensure that you have a perpetual knot in your stomach and every single thing is starting to get on your nerves.
Thanksgiving is almost upon us and with that, so is the pressure to perform. Not in the sense of when Aunt Carol, who likes to hit the sauce a little hard on holidays (and I'm not talking gravy), asks you to play the piano even though you only took lessons for a year when you were 10, but rather the other tradition that comes along with the territory of Thanksgiving: the act of giving thanks.
The moment my mom set that first Tofurky down on the table in front of me six years ago, I knew I had made the right decision. Even though many people thought it defied logic, becoming a vegetarian right before Thanksgiving solidified my commitment to my new meat-free diet. It was my freshman year of college and to this day, I still consider it the best, and perhaps most life-changing decision I ever made.
Look around everyone; we don't have any reasons to be thankful. It's really cold outside, there's tons of schoolwork to do and geese are taking over the grass in front of the library. We don't even have holidays that stand for something noble. There are two holidays coming up: the second most drunken day of the year (Thanksgiving) and the most commercialized day of our miserable capitalist lives (Christmas). Congratulations to America for eating Thanksgiving and Christmas and pooping out gluttony and materialism. That's an awkward image, to be true, but completely apt.
The tradition of two people simultaneously snapping the collarbone of a bird in two and the bearer of the larger half making a wish began 2,400 years ago. The Etruscans, who lived on the Italian peninsula, believed fowl were fortunetellers because the hen announced she would be laying an egg with a squawk and the rooster told of the coming of a new day with his early morning crowing. A circle was drawn in the dirt and divided into twenty wedges that represented the twenty letters in the Etruscan alphabet. A piece of grain would be placed in each wedge. A hen would then be allowed to peck at the grain. As she ate, a scribe would list the letters in order and those letters would be interpreted by the high priests to answer questions.
~According to most historians, the pilgrims never observed an annual Thanksgiving Day feast in autumn. In the year 1621, they did celebrate a feast near Plymouth, Massachusetts, following their first harvest. But the feast most people refer to as the first Thanksgiving was never repeated. Oddly enough, most devoutly religious pilgrims observed a day of thanksgiving with prayer and fasting, not feasting. Even though this harvest feast was never called Thanksgiving by the pilgrims of 1621, it has become the model for the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Firsthand accounts of this feast, by Edward Winslow and William Bradford, can be found in Pilgrim Hall Museum.
By Michael Gaynor