Why is Thanksgiving Overlooked?

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Zachary Greene

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Why is Thanksgiving Overlooked?

Thanksgiving feast

Thanksgiving feast

Google Common License

Thanksgiving feast

Google Common License

Google Common License

Thanksgiving feast

Ask anyone what their favorite holiday is, and not many will say Thanksgiving. November’s signature holiday seems to be the least popular out of the end of the year trio, consisting also of Halloween and Christmas. In terms of merchandising and media awareness, Thanksgiving seems to be ranked near the bottom of the ladder.

Most people are familiar with the simple version on how Thanksgiving came to be. The Pilgrims of Plymouth were starving to death, and the Native Americans living close by helped them along and taught them how to survive on this land. To commemorate this good will, a three day feast was thrown as the Natives and Pilgrims ate together in harmony. The holiday was celebrated by some states in the country until Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday in 1863 at the height of the Civil War in attempt to “heal the wounds of the nation” (History.com).

However, outside of elementary school classrooms, Thanksgiving is not held in the same regard as Halloween, or Christmas. Retailers and stores don’t stock as many Thanksgiving Day decorations and displays, leaving most of the shelf space to Halloween and Christmas, sometimes at the same time. Most people don’t even abide by the unspoken rule that the holiday season begins after Thanksgiving anymore. According to the National Retail Federation, 56.6% of people celebrating the holiday season in 2015, started their shopping as early as the beginning of November (nrf.com).

It seems that one of our longest celebrated holidays is now more of a filler day, a step between Halloween and Christmas, with the latter continuing to creep up further the calendar with decoration and commercials available in late October now. While the holiday is still widely celebrated, with millions of turkey being eaten and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade still a popular ongoing tradition, it doesn’t hold the same weight and “hype” as other American holidays do.

So how did Thanksgiving’s relative importance become diminished throughout the years? The truth of the matter is that a day centered around being thankful for what one has and grateful for the goodness around, is not as marketable as a holiday all about acquiring consumer products and giving presents in the name of generosity. Thanksgiving is not a good holiday to be centered around consumerism; it’s meant to be a time when people reflect upon what they have in their lives, and to be grateful for them, whether it be family, good health, or simply a roof over their head. This isn’t meant to be an insult to Christmas, which is all about giving to other and about spreading kindness around the world. It’s just that Christmas is much easier to exploit in order to sell material goods; the practice has been around for over a hundred years at this point. Retailers know that Christmas sells, and so push the holiday sales harder and earlier. First it was Black Friday, which came to the national conscious in the 1980s (history.com), and then spread to many other sales such as “Cyber Monday” as well as various days throughout the holiday season. Now Thanksgiving Day itself if just another sale day, with retailers pushing consumers to start the shopping that Thursday evening instead of waiting.

Thanksgiving deserves much more recognition and relevance in society today. So this year, remember why Thanksgiving is important, and why we should celebrate it as a county. Because a holiday focused on being with family and being thankful for the good in the world should be more than just a day off to go shopping.