Fleeing from Europe wide catholic persecution to the Americas, many of the original colonists celebrated the ageless traditional autumn harvest with a feast of thanks. The feast was planned to thank the Indians for teaching them how to grow and cook those foods. Without the Indians, the first settlers would not have survived. They ate venison and sweetcorn and of course pumpkin!  Following the first civil war, George Washington suggested the date, November 26 is deemed as ‘Thanksgiving Day’, when the whole nation could celebrate the survival of that first colony.  Then at the end of the long and bloody civil war in 1863, Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving.  Supposedly a symbol of inter-racial and religious tolerance, cooperation and dependency.  None of which appear to exist in Obama land.

Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping spree. Midway between the myths of Halloween and Christmas the true symbolism of this harvest festival is soon lost to that great god of American’s – commercialism. The suffering of both colonists and indigenous population is mainly forgotten.

The Pilgrims came across the sea,

And never thought of you and me;

And yet it’s very strange the way

We think of them Thanksgiving Day.

We tell their story old and true

Of how they sailed across the blue,

And found a new land to be free

And built their homes quite near the sea.

The people think that they were sad,

And grave; I’m sure that they were glad –

They made Thanksgiving Day – that’s fun –

We thank the Pilgrims every one!

by Annette Wynne



  1. You, it seems to me, are mostly angry at the United States. I understand that, but I am more often either sad or fearful. It is my country, and it seems in so many ways to have lost contact with its roots. Yes, Thanksgiving was in part to the Indians, but discrimination against those who were there first is still alive and well. And we seem so often to have lost our great strength of tolerating diversity and replaced it with bigotry, a refusal to compromise or even listen to those who disagree with us. We are ripping ourselves apart.

    I love my country, but I fear too many of us think our great strength is in our superior bullets, not in our ideals of freedom and respect. Living in Europe, I watched first-hand a swell of sympathy and support after 9/11 evaporate as Bush pursued his disguised dash for oil under the unsubstantiated claim that Iraq was preparing to use weapons of mass destruction.

    I wonder what series of events might possibly bring us back to those ideals of freedom and equality on which my country was first founded. Perhaps, in a way, your anger is more hopeful than my fear and sadness. If so, I hope you are more right than I am.

    • I think disappointed that the ‘american dream’ is a mere myth which my childhood weekly visits to the cinema cultivated. Roy Rogers, John Wayne ect always beat the ‘indians’ or ‘jerries’ Seeing brave americans lay down their lives in Viet Nam brought home the futility of war, as if I needed more proof after 2 world wars wiped out so many Britsh, Commenwealth and Allied soldiers. Learning history from various sources, not just the victors, reinforced this belief whereas Hollywood perpetuated the myth. Washington should read a few history books. The ‘imperial might’ of the Empire failed to subdue 19 th century Afghanistan but at least it foiled czarist Russia’s quest in its southward push for warm Pacific ports!! Britain maintained a semblence of ‘order’in the area whereas the iron manacle of ‘superior’ bullets is moving from Europe to the far east. The growth of religious indoctrination in central asian Russia emanated from their southern neighbour and that took soviet tanks into Kabul. The rest is history as they say – instability from the Mediterranen to Yellow sea! The fixation with ‘reds under beds’ and the lesson of the other futile war in Korea blinded many to the preposterous idea that the ‘west’ should have supported Russia – not hinder them in flushing out and eradicating the extremists.
      Much of my current pessimism lies in the rhetoric from current Republican philosophy which gets more like animal farm by the day – “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” The ideal of the founding fathers cannot be replicated only lessons learnt from our history books can point us all along the path of the 18th century philosophers!

      • Yes, the Republican Right is a breed apart, and one can only be grateful that the majority of American voters were not convinced. I wonder how much of current American policies right now, though, reflect a broader American attitude. We seem to think America is invincible and too many of us think we can stay that way by being the biggest bully on the planet. Standing by our principles doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with it.

        But history, as you point out, doesn’t support that view.

        The Other I

  2. PS: As an authentic American, can I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving? After all, as your blog points out, it was immigrants from this side of the pond who started it. It’s my favourite holiday. As Meister Eckhart pointed out – “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

    Best wishes!

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