Editorial: The Origins of Thanksgiving Day

What are YOU thankful for?

News Editor Aspen Mauch

Graphic Designer Tiffany Erickson

“Thanksgiving, in simple terms, is being thankful for what you have—no matter what situation you have in life, to just make the most of it.” — William Crowell, kinesiology major

Thanksgiving Graphic

Turkey dinners, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie - my mouth is watering already. That lingering aroma of amazing food is the sign that we’re in the middle of the holiday season, with Thanksgiving Day right around the corner. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to spend time with our families - or the ones closest to us - and to reflect on who, or what, we’re thankful for in our lives. It's a time to indulge in an abundance of delicious food while sharing meaningful memories made together. However, everyone may celebrate their Thanksgiving differently and have their own personal “traditions.” For students at UH Hilo, what does Thanksgiving Day mean to you? What are YOU thankful for?

“Thanksgiving, in simple terms, is being thankful for what you have - no matter what situation you have in life, to just make the most of it. I’m going back home to Oahu to spend time with my family and my nephews. I’m thankful for everything; I’m thankful I got to go away for college even though it's not that far, I’m thankful that I even get to go to college and set an example for my nephews - showing them that college is great, that getting an education is good and school isn't always that boring. I’m thankful to have parents that support me and stand by me no matter how long it takes me to graduate.” — William Crowell, kinesiology major

“For me, besides being an excuse to gorge myself with turkey stuffing and mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving means getting to spend time with family and celebrate all that we have been blessed with throughout the year. When I was younger, Thanksgiving was my Abuelita’s (Spanish word for grandmother) second favorite holiday, second only to Christmas. She loved getting to see all her grandkids and getting to cook copious amounts of food. That was always my favorite part about the holidays. So when she died eight years ago, my family and I tried to keep her traditions alive by making her garlic mashed potatoes and cooking the turkey just exactly how she used to. Thanksgiving means remembering her and my Abuelito (Spanish word for grandfather) and keeping their memories strong. Thanksgiving has never been the same since my Abuelita died, but since moving to Hilo my family and I have started a new tradition. They come out to the Big Island and spend a week or two. We have Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ house in Kona and spend the weekend being thankful for and counting all of our blessings. I am thankful for so many things, that it is impossible to list them all out. But most of all I am thankful for the love and support that I have been surrounded with for all my life, but for this last year especially. I’ve been going through a lot of trials and tribulations with countless road bumps and potholes along the way. However, my family and close friends have been there for me and walked with me on this journey since day one, and have given me unconditional love and support.” — Madalyn Mychael Muñoz, marine science major

“In concerns of what Thanksgiving means to me… it's really just good food haha. My family isn’t close so I don’t think of family gatherings, I think of good food and good friends, so that's what it means to me. I’m thankful for my friends, the privilege of being able to afford higher education, etc.” — Sierra Boulos, computer science and linguistics double major

“Thanksgiving is a time to acknowledge those things in life you take for granted. It's a time to spend with friends and family and enjoy every little moment. I am going to celebrate with friends, and I am thankful for my friends and those I am close to like family.” — Sarah Ferguson, natural science chemistry major

Thanksgiving Day was officially established as a federal holiday in 1863 by then-President Abraham Lincoln. Since then, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on every fourth Thursday in November.

Just as a brief look at the origins of Thanksgiving: in the fall of 1620, the Mayflower, a 180-ton ship, set sail from England with 102 passengers. After weeks of battling treacherous waters and stormy weather, they dropped anchor near Cape Cod, off the coast of modern-day Massachusetts. After crossing Massachusetts Bay, those passengers - now known as the Pilgrims - started working on establishing a village called Plymouth. The first winter at Plymouth proved to be much more unforgiving than the Pilgrims had anticipated, and nearly half of those 102 passengers succumbed to the elements or contagious disease. Those who lived to see the first spring befriended local Indian tribes, who traded with the Pilgrims and taught them how to cultivate corn. After a very prosperous growing season, the Pilgrims invited the Native Americans and held a harvest feast that lasted for three days, where they celebrated their successful harvest and their survival. This is the event that's come to be accepted as America’s “first Thanksgiving.”

As this year’s Thanksgiving Day approaches, be sure to stop and think about what you may have to be grateful for in your life. Although many of us can be blindsided and overwhelmed by our own personal hells and hardships we’re enduring (especially with finals right around the corner), we all have something to be thankful for, even if it's simple, or even if it's just being alive. Life is too damn short to not appreciate the little things every once in awhile. Happy Holidays!

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.