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Critique of Anthropology. The Invention of Thanksgiving: A ritual ofAmerican nationality. The online version of this article can be found at:. Published by:. Additional services and information for Critique of Anthropology can be found at:. All r i g ht s reserve d. N ot for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. The Invention of Thanksgiving.

T h r o u g h the consummation of a sacred m e a l , a diverse collection of. In e v e r y household that. This article traces the d e v e l o p -. Though traditions are invented and nations imagined, Thanksgiving is a. There are those who counterculturally contest the mythic. Thanksgiving and July 4th are the two most important, purely Ameri-. For the great majority of Americans, of. In e v e r y household that considers itself American or desires to be considered American, Thanksgiving brings family m e m b e r s b a c k home,.

At the same time, Thanks-. T u r k e y is the central s y m b o l of Thanksgiving. In schools throughout. It symbolizes precisely what Robertson suggests.

The stuffed turkey represents. The Pilgrims, persecuted in England and unhappy in Holland, took the ship. Mayflower and sailed ultimately to a place they called P l y m o u t h , near. In the.

Indians, c o w b o y s and Indians. However, in its present form, Thanksgiving. The p u r p o s e of this article is to look more c l o s e l y at the elements that are. The sources and historic moments that are considered here are o n l y p a r t i a l a total deconstruction would involve a. Connecticut settlements, religiously observed only the Sabbath, days of. When events were seen to. Such days were observed fre-. On days of thanksgiving, a meal may have. It has been construed as a harvest f e s t i v a l , descended from.

Love, 75 footnote. There are other contenders for the honor of h o l d i n g the. A chosen people. An extensive literature documents the Puritan i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f. Robertson, Puritan belief interpreted the plague and. Williams had also p r o p o s e d that Native Americans. Bercovitch, The calling of a congregation to fast or thanks-.

The leaders of Puritan c o n g r e g a t i o n s in the New E n g l a n d colonies found f r e q u e n t occasions to call for d a y s of fasts to p l a c a t e the L o r d , who had sent droughts, starvation or Indian attacks, and days of thanksgivings t o give. I n a law was. New E n g l a n d colonies was announced in b y the entire church l e a d e r s h i p of the New E n g l a n d colonies to celebrate the defeat of the P e q u o t Indians.

A day of public thanksgiving was appointed, and in all the. Love, The secular l e a d e r s h i p of Massachusetts wanted to declare a d a y of thanks-. The secular council. The contest between r e l i g i o u s and secular l e a d e r s h i p s concerned m a n y issues - control over p e o p l e , taxes and tithes - and in addition it was a.

American culture with its Puritan a n c e s t r y. In appropriating the power to call the p e o p l e. By , however, with the exception o f.

Massachusetts Bay where the clergy was powerful, all proclamations of. N e w Y o r k o r N e w Jersey, overwhelmingly this p o w e r was exercised b y the secular authorities. In The states celebrated. Thanksgiving during this period, and it developed into an autumn family. The s t r u g g l e and trauma of the Civil War.

These proclamations followed the tradition of religiously giving thanks. B y , the. In both and a l o n g with. As Steinberg p o i n t e d out in an article p u b l i s h e d on Thanksgiving Day,. Thanksgiving are a political response. Steinberg, Feasts and homecomings - early and mid- 19th century. P i l g r i m s nor origin myth was in evidence.

Although originally both fasts. This combination of. Even in. Puritan strictures. Love, 50, , suppressed. The g r a d u a l l y e m e r g i n g tradition in New E n g l a n d was one which emphasized the family household rather than the community. Reverend Love, the champion of Thanksgiving, approved this change and. C o l o n y , state or nation became the. T h a n k s g i v i n g celebrates and obfuscates the. These observances were sometimes on the same d a t e , sometimes within the same week or two p p.

By the mid 19th-century, T h a n k s g i v i n g had become associated with. Returning home for Thanksgiving was both. In the second half of the century. These textbooks are. Abolitionist ministers p r e a c h e d. With the establishment of a n a t i o n a l ,. The annual national h o l i d a y.

Native Americans become Indiansflurkeys. Appelbaum, Practical reasons undoubtedly can be found for turkeys becoming less. I n the midth century as today, pictures of live Tom Turkeys in f u l l f e a t h e r appeared at Thanksgiving time in magazines and decorations. Baker, , prefiguring their ritual presentation as the Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving turkeypowerfully symbolizes the Indians. It is a symbol of a. The term reduces and conceals all those who lived in the p a s t as well as those who live in the US n o w , d e f i n i n g them o n l y in terms of the dominant culture.

Whites misperceived, exaggerated and distorted see, for example:. Berkhofer, ; Matz, ; Neuwirth, ; Stedman, 1 9 8 2. In the 17th and 18th centuries the. From the. The categories certainly. In the East, where the Native Americans had been cleared from their lands b y t h e m i d - 1 9 t h c e n t u r y , the.

Indians was available earlier than in the West.



Brownscombe, Everything must be invented, and the modern Thanksgiving—feast, founding story, and all—is no exception. The American holiday developed over centuries, in pace with the larger culture. Early Americans might have trouble recognizing the holiday if they could see it today, but there is plenty for current celebrants to learn from that history.


The Invention of Thanksgiving

The Invention of Thanksgiving: A ritual ofAmerican nationality. ByJanet Siskind. Though traditions are invented and nations imagined, Thanksgiving is a day on which all. One of the problems that I can see with the overall invented tradition process is how the fictitious continuity would compete with the historical past accounts and lived experiences. Like the turkey, Indians were either wild or domesticated. Siskind also took to analyzing the symbolic significance behind the Thanksgiving turkey, a bird which happens to be indigenous to North America. The co-occurrence of wild and domesticated birds makes a perfect metaphor for Native Americans.

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