The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899).
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a Federal holiday every year since 1863.
Some people recently have spread the message that Thanksgiving has nothing to do with religion, but during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Thanksgiving was also celebrated nationally in 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington. As a federal and public holiday in the United States, Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. Together with Christmas and New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.
In the consumer world Thanksgiving is preceded by Black Wednesday and followed by Black Friday.
Black Wednesday — the night before Thanksgiving has become one of the most popular drinking nights of the year across the country. The high consumption of alcohol on Wednesday night can result in a high number of DUI reports by other motorists and a high number of DUI arrests.
Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, also known as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, most major retailers have opened very early and offered promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, and there is criticism that Black Thursday has crept into Thursday night.
The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899) has some controversy surrounding it. Historians claim the painting shows common misconceptions about the event that persist to modern times: Pilgrims did not wear black outfits with big black hats with buckles, and the Wampanoag are dressed in the style of Native Americans from the Great Plains. Some also report that the colonists of the year did not work hard to produce an abundant harvest. They report 1621 was a famine year — the result of lazy colonist tending to steal food instead of producing food. The greater harvests actually occurred in 1623 and 1624.
According to the Mises Institute for Austrian Economics, Freedom and Peace, much of the Thanksgiving story told in United States grade schools is a hoax. Prior to 1622 in colonial America “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take only what he needed, according to the governor of the colony, William Bradford. The socialist form of economic organization was reorganized. Bradford wrote that “young men that were most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
Bradford abolished this early socialism. With a new start, he gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit — establishing a free market. Following the free market establishment, the famines ended, and the prosperous Thanksgivings started in 1623 and 1624.
See also …
Mises Daily The Great Thanksgiving Hoax
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