Thanksgiving: Holiday myths and ideas to shake up old habits

by Christina Spencer

Thanksgiving is all about gathering around with family and eating a ton. It’s a time to be still and be thankful, you know, like the Pilgrims did centuries ago. But what if turkey wasn’t even part of the original Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims weren’t even the founders of the holiday? Here are a few things that you may have thought are true about Thanksgiving, but actually aren’t.

According to, Thanksgiving did not originate with the Pilgrims. It’s really an ancient historical custom that the Pilgrims may have been familiar with in England.

The only food that we know was eaten on that first Thanksgiving was venison and some type of wild fowl. It is likely they feasted on geese, ducks and partridges, as well as birds we no longer consider food such as cranes, swans and eagles.

The common depiction of Pilgrim attire, with their black and white clothing and huge belt buckles, is actually all wrong. In fact, they only wore this black and white attire on Sundays or for special occasions. Large ornamental buckles did not come into fashion until later in the century and, anyways, the Pilgrims probably would have dubbed these a frivolity.

Thanksgiving was not an official holiday until Abraham Lincoln made it one in 1863. After the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, they never celebrated another and the holiday was irregularly observed in the U.S. for more than two centuries.


Perhaps your Thanksgiving traditions are a bit mundane and you want to adopt something new. Here are some Thanksgiving traditions of fellow Whitworth students:

 Kylie Steele, sophomore: We have a turkey that we put olives in so that it looks like the olives are the feathers.

Ali King, freshman: Every year at Thanksgiving my family makes a Thanksgiving tree. We cut out leaves from different pieces of colored paper and put them on a tree branch outside. Every member of my family gets seven leaves and we write what we are thankful for. We do one a night for the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

 Melissa Andrews, freshman: Watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with the whole family. Without fail we all end up in tears.

Kari Johnson, sophomore: Every year my family watches the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended edition.

Jacob Wilson, sophomore: I work as a butcher in a family butcher shop that can trace its history back seven generations. We have a lot of cool items that we specialize in and this year we decided to host a charity competition BBQ cook-off.

Nathan Jewett, freshman: My family gathers around and before we eat, we play a game of Pictionary. We also share the highlight of our year and what we are thankful for.

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