The Evolution of Thanksgiving

Last week the Samek Art Gallery hosted a panel where speakers gave their personal experiences with Thanksgiving, speeches that made you think about how the holiday has evolved.

Thanksgiving is a great holiday, one that brings everyone together to think about their lives and what they are most thankful for. However, if this is the true reason for this holiday, then why are we all so obsessed with the “Thanksgiving Feast”? Well, it started as the Pilgrims being thankful for the food that the Native Americans gave them and showed them how to harvest so that they wouldn’t die of starvation. That is definitely something to be thankful for.

It is important to know how the holiday began, and while the idea of celebrating what you are thankful for should remain strong throughout the history and future of this holiday, is it as important to always eat the same thing at every thanksgiving meal?

We always think about the Thanksgiving Turkey, with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and you can’t forget the sweet potatoes. Would you be willing to have another variety of foods on Thanksgiving? What if, like me, you aren’t particularly fond of turkey? How would you feel if you knew that the original Thanksgiving feast actually included another main dish?

How would you feel about a Thanksgiving Eel? I came across an interesting article in the New York Times’ Opinion pages entitled “A Thanksgiving Eel” by Drew Christie. A link to the article online:

Did you know that Eel was a main dish at the first Thanksgiving feast? It was a favorite food of the Native Americans of the north east.  Over time eel was removed from the Thanksgiving menu, although turkey has remained. At the panel last week, Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung presented his project which brought up the fact that our food has been changing and has been taken over by artificial flavors and coloring. He created a futuristic “jello-turkey” which was flavored like turkey and artificially colored to look like turkey.

If the Thanksgiving menu has changed to eliminate Eel, do you think that it will eventually change to replace turkey with something that looks like turkey and tastes like turkey? Every holiday evolves, I wonder what Thanksgiving will look like in a hundred years?

Happy Thanksgiving!


Katrina Hefele, Intern

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