As its prayerful name announces, Thanksgiving Day involves the bending of knees. To whom, after all, would celebrants give thanks if not to “Him”?

Residents of Plymouth in the Massachusetts colony, headed by Gov. William Bradford, initiated the tradition in 1621, at least according to the conventional account. Historians have questioned whether Plymouth really was the site of the first Thanksgiving, whether the date is accurate, and whether early colonial events were not more akin to carnivals with feasts than holy days with formal services. Regardless of when, where or how they did so, the grateful didn’t thank goodness or luck; they thanked God.

[FULL STORY]

Maybe this is just from my own experiences, but I have no problem with Thanksgiving and I've never seen in it as a religious holiday.  I've always seen it as a celebration of religious freedom (which of course includes the freedom from it), and in my family it's always been celebrated as a sort of mini-family-reunion.  Over the past several years, I've spent Thanksgiving with my wife's family, her sister and brother-in-law both being non-theist as well, and her parents are Anglican or some other protestant sect.  There's never been any pre-dinner prayer thanking any invisible sky-daddies.  We've always had a good time, outside of any family drama. 

Tags: celebration, freedom, thanksgiving

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Replies to This Discussion

I have never had a problem with Thanksgiving either. I love to play the hostess and cook a lot of good food. Too make things easier, we trade off with my family and my exhusband's--this year we are going to celebrate with his family, next year it will be mine. I think everyone knows that my kids and I are atheist. At any rate, no one has ever suggested praying.

I've always looked at it as a reunion too, but I never thought about it as a celebration of freedom of religion. I like that idea a lot.
I remember learning about the pilgrims in elementary school and I never understood why the pilgrims gave thanks to god when it was the Indians that saved their buts.
"Thank God for the Indians" would be their reply...
Me, I thank God for atheism.
:)
My family usually keep Thanksgiving secular, but my in-laws are Southern Baptist and do the whole "thanking God" thing. When it comes around to me, and I have to offer some thanks, I thank my mother-in-law for cooking the food, the farmers for growing it, and my wife for putting up with me.
Our family tradition is that each person at the table (of 18 to 20) says what they are thankful for- I have yet to hear god or jeebus brought up.
It's kind of a nice idea to have a day to be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives, the friends and family that make our lives full, the jobs that enslave us (oops, I mean employ us and give us our daily bread for which we are thankful). Much better than having a national day of whining bitching and complaining.

Of course, that says nothing about the Puritans, who were religious fanatics, who forced social conformity on one another by torturing and murdering people who did not conform (Salem witch trials). Not to mention that Native Americans did not exactly have a lot to be thankful for in the whole colonization situation. Not to mention that without the colonization of the Americas, the massive American slave trade wouldn't have happened, and Africans who were enslaved didn't have a lot to be thankful for either.

So I would like to dump the whole mythology of thanksgiving, including religion and colonial mythology, and keep the part about getting together with our families and friends, or even just having a plate of dumplings and watching a DVD with the dogs.
This article prompted me to look further. infoplease.com

Some feel that Thanksgiving should be a national day of mourning "...As early as 1836, at a Boston lecture on King Philip's War, Pequot Indian minister William Apess urged "every man of color" to mourn the day of the landing of the Pilgrims—and to bury Plymouth Rock in protest.

1836!

"
Organized by UAINE, the National Day of Mourning rally on Cole's Hill became as much a part of Plymouth Thanksgiving tradition as the Pilgrim Progress procession. But it was an uneasy coexistence. UAINE identified the Pilgrims as the source of all evils, accusing them of introducing "sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and anti-gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores," as one UAINE member put it in a speech."Maybe we should add global warning and Paris Hilton to the list as well, but the point is worthy of discussion.

Well, the US would never go for that. But maybe there is another way to acknowldege that colonization of the Americas had great costs, with decimation of the native peoples who had no choice in the matter, and on their side is an epic tragedy, the evil twin of the EuroAmerican ascension.. The blessings that fell to the new country of the USA were largely due to the ethnic cleansing of a continental race of people by war and disease, some intended, some not. Much, however, with the approval of the beneficiaries of the cleansing of the continent.

I don't think that the sanitized Christian story of Manifest Destiny, with mostly unmentioned destruction of the godless nonwhite heathens, should be the only story that is told.

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