For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time where family and friends gather together to "Thank God" for their "blessings" --which I find bizarre. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is said to have originated with the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians who are said to have shared an autumn harvest feast in the year 1621, but the roots of Thanksgiving are deeper than that. Harvest celebrations were common amongst many groups--from the the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans who feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest to the Puritans themselves who already had a tradition of providential holidays before they arrived in America, which included days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments, and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty. I, however, see the Thanksgiving "celebration" in an entirely different light. Like Christmas and Easter, I see Thanksgiving as a facade, a ruse, a lie--and an insult. Let me tell you why.
After reading "American Holocaust" by David Stannard, among many other books on the subject, I came to realize that the "Puritans" were nothing short of barbaric, and the Christians who first came to America with the promise of owning land and being free to practice their own religion--did so at the expense of the Native Americans. Ironically, those Puritans who came for land and the freedom to practice their own religion--took those rights away from the Native Americans. Their lands, their freedom, and their religions were forcibly taken away from them in the name of "freedom" and the Christian god. In the beginning, the Indians, being altruistic, had helped the Christians survive when they first arrived by showing them how to tap maple trees for syrup, and showing them what plants were safe to eat, etc. Many Indian tribes lived cooperatively, and routinely shared their bounty with others, so this was not an uncommon practice for them. To repay them for their kindness however, the Christians stole the Indian's food, stole their land, and forced those that survived to adopt the white man's god. This persecution continued until almost all of them were either dead, or living on reservation land which was unsuitable for growing crops or grazing cattle--leaving them a poor and broken people.
In this process, which included many Natives dying because they had no immunity to the diseases the Christians brought with them, many groups of Native Americans were literally exterminated. So what part did the Christian god play in all of this? When the diseases that the Christians brought to the New World began to decimate populations of Native Americans, the Christians believed this was due to the "judgement of God" and they also believed this was a sign from God giving them permission to eliminate the Native Americans in other ways as well--as according to them, the Indians were savages anyway, and no better than animals. The torture and genocide of the Native Americans was caused by Christians who believed they have "dominion" over the earth, and everything on it, and as David Stannard explains in "American Holocaust" this is typically how Christians "dominated" the Americas:
"Thousands of native people were killed, their villages and crops burned to the ground. In a single early massacre 600 Indians were destroyed. It was, says the recent account of two historians, "a seventeenth-century My Lai" in which the Christians "ran amok, killing the wounded men, women and children indiscriminately, firing the camp, burning the Indians alive or dead in their huts." A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a "barbeque." More butchery was to follow. " *
In reference to the slaughter and literal "hunting" of Native Americans (It was a popular sport in New England for a time), writers of the time expressed their feelings for the atrocities committed against the Native Americans by stating that it was, "God's Will which will at last give us cause to say, How Great is his Goodness! and how great is his Beauty!" and "thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust."**
I encourage everyone who is interested in the history of what really happened to the Native Americans to read "American Holocaust." It could change the way you view the world. I am thankful for my life, and for the fact I was lucky enough to be born in a wealthy country, and I pay it forward by donating to Food Banks, and other charities. I doubt the small Christian children in Africa who are starving to death are thankful for much in life--which is another reason why I hate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in America is an excuse for gluttony--which is not only one of the "seven deadly sins"-- it is an insult to the starving in the world. Instead of spending the money on the extravagance of Thanksgiving dinners at home, that money would be better spent feeding those who cannot feed themselves. That would be a "real Thanksgiving."
* American Holocaust, David Stannard p. 115
** Ibid., p. 116