Happy Thanksgiving from the Gatlinburg Daily Post!

The morning is crisp and cold with leaves swirling around in the late autumn air. Today, November 23, 2017, is the holiday that many have been waiting for: Thanksgiving! It’s time to gear up for our Thanksgiving feasts and some much needed family time. Have you ever thought about how all our Thanksgiving traditions got started?

Throughout our education, we have been told many stories of how Thanksgiving got started and how its tradition has been passed down to our modern day. Despite this common point in American history classes, experts are still not sure of the exact date that the first Thanksgiving took place. We, of course, can all agree that the meal would involve the pilgrims and possibly the native peoples of the area at the time. There seems to be some agreement that two versions of the story exist.

In the first version of the story, there is a tale of the generous Wampanoag tribe who, despite their differences, decide to take pity on the settlers and teach them how to survive. The tribe would teach them how to fish and hunt, as well as how to provide for their people. The meal that followed this teaching was the results of their labor and a bountiful harvest. The two people’s celebratory feast would last for three days.

The second version of the story is a bit harsher. The pilgrims arrived to the new world with little to no time to prepare for the brutal winter ahead. They hadn’t honed their hunting and tracking skills enough to adapt to their new environment, which resulted in little to no food to provide for the settlers. The Thanksgiving tradition came from their praises to God after a large meal. These meals were harder to come by, but would make it all the more satisfying when they managed to secure the needed food. Our holiday of thanks is, supposedly, the result of these harsh times.

Regardless, our celebration of Thanksgiving has only been around for 120 years. Thanksgiving would not be celebrated as a national holiday until it was declared such by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. In his declaration, he would announce that the holiday was to be held on the last Thursday in November. In World War II, there would be a greater push for the Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate the safe return of a band of hunters consisting of volunteers, following a massacre of 700 Pequot Native Americans.

Today’s Thanksgiving celebrations are a bit different than those of the past, with people opting to swing by a grocery store, rather than hunt for their food. To put this mass purchasing in perspective, 46 million turkeys will be sold in anticipation of the holiday, not to mention more than 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey for the holiday, with California in the lead for consuming the most. Our post-Thanksgiving traditions have changed, too. Black Friday sales are a fantastic way to burn off that annual turkey-induced coma after dinner. Just remember, no matter what you end up doing for the Thanksgiving holiday, take a moment and reflect on your life and what you have. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at the Gatlinburg Daily Post!

Source: Elizabeth Lane, Gatlinburg Daily Post Staff Writer