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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:27 pm 
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American Thanksgiving is on Thursday because tradition holds that the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, MA started on a Thursday and lasted for three days. Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would be the last Thursday in November. From Lincoln's to FDR's time, the President issued an annual proclamation announcing the date of Thanksgiving. Most presidents kept to Lincoln's last Thursday in November. FDR, trying to give Depression-era Christmas sales a boost, moved the date twice, once to the second Thursday in November and once to the third Thursday. National outrage ensued. Finally, on December 26, 1941, Congress declared that Thanksgiving would be on the fourth Thursday in November.

I refuse to accept any guilt for what people did before I was born, so I look at Thanksgiving as a day to be thankful for what I have, eat good food, and spend time with good friends and/or family.

I've also always enjoyed Tom Robbins's take on Thanksgiving from Skinny Legs and All (published in 1990, and which I read long before I gave up meat):

Quote:
The roast turkey carries with it, in its chubby hold, a sizable portion
of our primitive and pagan luggage.

Primitive and pagan? Us? We of the laser, we of the microchip, we of
Union Theological Seminary and Time Magazine? Of course. At least
twice a year, do not millions upon millions of us cybernetic Christians
and fax machine Jews participate in a ritual, a highly stylized ceremony
that takes place around a large, dead bird?

And is not this animal sacrificed, as in days of yore, to catch the
attention of a divine spirit, to show gratitude for blessings bestowed,
and to petition for blessings coveted?

The turkey, slain, slowly cooked over our gas or electric fires, is the
central figure at our holy feast. It is the totem animal that brings our
tribe together.

And because it is an awkward, intractable creature, the serving of it
establishes and reinforces the tribal hierarchy. There are but two legs,
two wings, a certain amount of white meat, a given quantity of dark. Who
gets which piece; who, in fact, slices the bird and distributes its limbs
and organs, underscores quite emphatically the rank of each member in the
gathering.

Consider that the legs of this bird are called "drumsticks," after the
ritual objects employed to extract the music from the most aboriginal and
sacred of instruments. Our ancestors kept their drums in public, but the
sticks, being more actively magical, usually were stored in places known
only to the shaman, the medicine man, the high priest, or the Wise Old
Woman. The wing of the fowl gives symbolic flight to the soul, but with
the drumstick is evoked the beat of the pulse of the heart of the
universe.

Few of us nowadays participate in the actual hunting and killing of the
turkey, but almost all of us watch, frequently with deep emotion, the
reenactment of those events. We watch it on TV sets immediately before
the communal meal. For what are footballs if not metaphorical turkeys,
flying up and down a meadow? And what is a touchdown if not a kill,
achieved by one or the other of two opposing tribes? To our applause,
great young hunters from Alabama or Notre Dame slay the bird. Then, the
Wise Old Woman, in the guise of Grandma, calls us to table, where we,
pretending to be no longer primitive, systematically rip the bird asunder.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:01 pm 
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I like to do an anti-thanksgiving by ordering chinese food and renting movies. I've been doing it since college. Sometimes my mom joins me while the men are out hunting. It's usually chick flicks and comedies. Best. Holiday. Ever.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:06 pm 
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I like Thanksgiving and don't think it has anything to do with genocide. It's about my family eating food and watching football for some odd reason.

I sometimes think people way overreact about holidays - they're just holidays. It's not like anyone is going around saying they're thankful for genocide and atrocities committed by people who have absolutely nothing to do with them. Things evolve and Thanksgiving is one of those.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:25 pm 
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I have standing invites to seven houses for Thanksgiving, and I have to say, this year, I just want to stay home and cuddle cats and watch bad-TV.

Nobody I know is veg*n and I don't want to deal with looking at/smelling/watching other people eat the the big dead bird on the table. Because of my food allergy I'd have to make food I can eat and transport it to where ever I'd end up at for Thanksgiving anyway. I like spending time with my people, but I get tired of tolerating the cooked dead critters on the table.

The best Thanksgiving I ever had was the one right after I divorced my ex. I'd stopped talking to my family and my friend moved away to another state. I didn't have anybody to spend it with. I decided I wasn't going to mope about being alone and I made my own Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings (obviously pregan days) and ate it with my dog and cats. It was awesome. Me and the fuzzybutts had a great holiday together.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:57 pm 
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I went vegan on Thanksgiving in 2002. That's made the holiday really meaningful for me. I try to celebrate every year with friends and a vegan feast and use it as a chance to be thankful that I have such abundance in my life that I can eat delicious food without participating in violence against animals and all that good stuff. I grew up in a meat eating family but I kinda always felt like I was participating in a ritual sacrifice when we had a Thanksgiving turkey meal, and so when I finally figured out how to NOT participate in that -- by going vegan -- it was a huge deal for me, and I love celebrating it now.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:35 pm 
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Sarah wrote:
I sometimes think people way overreact about holidays - they're just holidays. It's not like anyone is going around saying they're thankful for genocide and atrocities committed by people who have absolutely nothing to do with them. Things evolve and Thanksgiving is one of those.


I have no idea what race or ethnicity you identify as, so this isn't directed towards you, Sarah- just coming from me as a white person, I think a white person saying that and an American Indian person saying that would be two very different things. Whether or not we choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, I think it's important to acknowledge that at least for some people, this holiday does serve as a reminder of those atrocities committed against American Indians.

I think that might actually be the core of my problem with it- I'm just uneasy about the lack of dialogue.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:44 pm 
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choirqueer wrote:
I went vegan on Thanksgiving in 2002. That's made the holiday really meaningful for me. I try to celebrate every year with friends and a vegan feast and use it as a chance to be thankful that I have such abundance in my life that I can eat delicious food without participating in violence against animals and all that good stuff. I grew up in a meat eating family but I kinda always felt like I was participating in a ritual sacrifice when we had a Thanksgiving turkey meal, and so when I finally figured out how to NOT participate in that -- by going vegan -- it was a huge deal for me, and I love celebrating it now.


That sounds really nice. What a day to go vegan! Did you do anything special? I think on my first Thanksgiving as a vegan, I ate some pasta and a pint of Tofutti.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:48 pm 
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morecuminthancumin wrote:
Sarah wrote:
I sometimes think people way overreact about holidays - they're just holidays. It's not like anyone is going around saying they're thankful for genocide and atrocities committed by people who have absolutely nothing to do with them. Things evolve and Thanksgiving is one of those.


I have no idea what race or ethnicity you identify as, so this isn't directed towards you, Sarah- just coming from me as a white person, I think a white person saying that and an American Indian person saying that would be two very different things. Whether or not we choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, I think it's important to acknowledge that at least for some people, this holiday does serve as a reminder of those atrocities committed against American Indians.

I think that might actually be the core of my problem with it- I'm just uneasy about the lack of dialogue.

Yes, this is how I feel too. I think having a harvest meal in which you are thankful for food and loved ones, etc. is great. I think that dismissing the cultural history and implications of Thanksgiving because you personally (the generic you) weren't involved in the genocide of a people is really problematic and erases the experience of so many people for whom this holiday is very painful.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:02 am 
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I think Thanksgiving is a great time to make lots of food and be thankful that you can afford to. We haven't traveled for the holidays for a couple of years now, which is sort of sad because I like visiting family, but is nice because I am in control of the menu.

we also don't go for any of the "traditional" holiday themes that are out there - we aren't celebrating the historical aspect of the holiday but trying to make the holiday mean something for our family. its more like a seasonal holiday for us.

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Last edited by Koalaborg on Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:21 am 
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Sarah wrote:
I like Thanksgiving and don't think it has anything to do with genocide. It's about my family eating food and watching football for some odd reason.

I sometimes think people way overreact about holidays - they're just holidays. It's not like anyone is going around saying they're thankful for genocide and atrocities committed by people who have absolutely nothing to do with them. Things evolve and Thanksgiving is one of those.

It has a lot to do with genocide, you should read up on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:55 am 
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j-dub wrote:
Yes, this is how I feel too. I think having a harvest meal in which you are thankful for food and loved ones, etc. is great. I think that dismissing the cultural history and implications of Thanksgiving because you personally (the generic you) weren't involved in the genocide of a people is really problematic and erases the experience of so many people for whom this holiday is very painful.


Yes! Exactly how I feel, only you said it better than I could.

J-dub (and anyone else who agrees with the sentiment and cares to answer), what's your opinion: Is this an "If A, then B" situation? Does choosing to focus only on the positive aspects of the holiday, to define and celebrate Thanksgiving on our own terms, result in people's experiences being invalidated? Is this an unavoidable consequence of celebrating, or is it not so simple as that?

I don't feel like I'm being very clear. What I'm trying to get at is "is it possible to find a balance between celebrating and acknowledging the experiences and oppression of others?"


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:30 am 
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Every Thanksgiving some folks around San Francisco gather at Alcatraz at sunrise to commemorate its occupation by a number of Native American radicals in 1969. A past professor invited some of us to go with her, but we were all going to be out of town. And so I am full of regret every Thanksgiving.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:13 am 
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morecuminthancumin wrote:
j-dub wrote:
Yes, this is how I feel too. I think having a harvest meal in which you are thankful for food and loved ones, etc. is great. I think that dismissing the cultural history and implications of Thanksgiving because you personally (the generic you) weren't involved in the genocide of a people is really problematic and erases the experience of so many people for whom this holiday is very painful.


Yes! Exactly how I feel, only you said it better than I could.

J-dub (and anyone else who agrees with the sentiment and cares to answer), what's your opinion: Is this an "If A, then B" situation? Does choosing to focus only on the positive aspects of the holiday, to define and celebrate Thanksgiving on our own terms, result in people's experiences being invalidated? Is this an unavoidable consequence of celebrating, or is it not so simple as that?

I don't feel like I'm being very clear. What I'm trying to get at is "is it possible to find a balance between celebrating and acknowledging the experiences and oppression of others?"

I do think it is possible to find that balance. I think a big part of it is creating a dialogue, acknowledging the history of the holiday, and trying to act in a good way. For example, the way my friend and I celebrated this year was by having a harvest meal as opposed to a Thanksgiving meal, and by acknowledging the violent colonial history of the land we are lucky enough to be guests on.

I do think that just focusing on the positive aspects results in erasing the history of violence and genocide against Indigenous people by the founders of our countries, and I think it speaks to an extreme amount of privilege, which is not meant to demonize anyone or make anyone feel guilty. Rather, it's an invitation to think about how defining anything solely on our own terms erases the experiences of so many people who don't have the luxury.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:52 am 
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morecuminthancumin wrote:
choirqueer wrote:
I went vegan on Thanksgiving in 2002. That's made the holiday really meaningful for me. I try to celebrate every year with friends and a vegan feast and use it as a chance to be thankful that I have such abundance in my life that I can eat delicious food without participating in violence against animals and all that good stuff. I grew up in a meat eating family but I kinda always felt like I was participating in a ritual sacrifice when we had a Thanksgiving turkey meal, and so when I finally figured out how to NOT participate in that -- by going vegan -- it was a huge deal for me, and I love celebrating it now.


That sounds really nice. What a day to go vegan! Did you do anything special? I think on my first Thanksgiving as a vegan, I ate some pasta and a pint of Tofutti.


I first went vegetarian just a few days before Thanksgiving. I was 16, and it was the first Major Occasion when I didn't eat meat - sort of like coming out as a vegetarian! - so it felt like a big deal to me. I remember going for a very long walk on a very cold day to A. get away from the turkey being prepped for the oven, and B. gird my loins for what I knew would be a whole day of "You're really not going to eat any turkey?" from my extended family. I think I ate bread, salad and mashed potatoes, but I was happy, and in the years to come my parents were always very good about making sure I had things to eat (of course, I ate dairy then, so it wasn't such a big deal).

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:27 am 
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morecuminthancumin wrote:


J-dub (and anyone else who agrees with the sentiment and cares to answer), what's your opinion: Is this an "If A, then B" situation? Does choosing to focus only on the positive aspects of the holiday, to define and celebrate Thanksgiving on our own terms, result in people's experiences being invalidated? Is this an unavoidable consequence of celebrating, or is it not so simple as that?

I think that makes it a bit black and white. You're setting it up as an either/or situation. I can celebrate that my friends have the day off work and we can get together and eat vegan food and I can also be aware of the history of Thanksgiving and how poorly we treat native americans. If you personally don't want to celebrate I don't see the big deal. Americans really really like tradition and it will be far past my lifetime before the meaning of Thanksgiving changes (among other traditions I disagree with). The best strategy for dealing with things for me is to take them on my own terms. For me, for Thanksgiving, that means eating stuffing. Perhaps for you it means not doing anything and volunteering with your local native american rights organization over the next year.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:07 am 
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I think it's possible to do both. I see no reason not to eat stuffing AND volunteer with a local Native American rights organization. Especially if during the eating of the stuffing, relevant issues are calmly discussed and people who aren't aware of the history behind Thanksgiving are educated.

Then again, I'm used to celebrations being tinged with sadness. People joke that the explanation for every Jewish holiday is "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat", so most festivals include mourning for the people who were lost and I think it's important to acknowledge the loss that happens on both sides, not just the one we happen to be on.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:27 am 
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pandacookie wrote:
morecuminthancumin wrote:


J-dub (and anyone else who agrees with the sentiment and cares to answer), what's your opinion: Is this an "If A, then B" situation? Does choosing to focus only on the positive aspects of the holiday, to define and celebrate Thanksgiving on our own terms, result in people's experiences being invalidated? Is this an unavoidable consequence of celebrating, or is it not so simple as that?


I think that makes it a bit black and white. You're setting it up as an either/or situation.


That wasn't my intention. I was genuinely asking for people's opinions- 'is it an either/or situation or not?' But like I said, I don't think I was being very clear.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:37 am 
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Is this at all relevant? Is this dismissive? (I'm hoping the answers are Yes and No, respectively.)

Some people feel weird about waving, displaying, or acknowledging the American flag. For them, it doesn't signify goodness and justice and freedom and equality—it stands for war, empire, greed, and pollution.

Then some of those weird feelers say, "fork it. This is my flag too. I'm not going to let other people tell me what it means! I say it means the promise of this nation, the guiding principles enshrined—but all-too-often forgotten—in our founding documents."

To say to those new flag-likers, "You can't just decide what the flag means to you! What about all the countless thousands who have suffered because of the actions of the country the flag stands for?" seems a little... off.

Maybe Thanksgiving is similar? Or then again, maybe not?

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:56 am 
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I think it is similar, but just as you can't dismiss what Thanksgiving means to someone you can't dismiss what Thanksgiving means to most people. So in my professional opinion as long as you know what's up with Thanksgiving and how it's a big lie and all that, then we're kosher. But I take hella umbrage* when people are like "No Thanksgiving means stuffing and family" and don't acknowledge what it has meant historically.

That said! Thanksgiving is like the most vegan holiday ever. I mean, I think it's a day where people go vegan at high rates, more so than New Year's even. I have no real stats for that, it's just what it seems like to me. It's also a great day for outreach and a day in which veganism gets plenty of media attention, so I think vegan Thanksgiving is really important. In my sci-fi vegan future imaginings, reclaimed Thanksgiving is the most important time of year.

*I don't say "hella" or "umbrage" but "hella umbrage" has a certain ring to it.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:10 pm 
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FootFace wrote:
Is this at all relevant? Is this dismissive? (I'm hoping the answers are Yes and No, respectively.)

Some people feel weird about waving, displaying, or acknowledging the American flag. For them, it doesn't signify goodness and justice and freedom and equality—it stands for war, empire, greed, and pollution.

Then some of those weird feelers say, "fork it. This is my flag too. I'm not going to let other people tell me what it means! I say it means the promise of this nation, the guiding principles enshrined—but all-too-often forgotten—in our founding documents."

To say to those new flag-likers, "You can't just decide what the flag means to you! What about all the countless thousands who have suffered because of the actions of the country the flag stands for?" seems a little... off.

Maybe Thanksgiving is similar? Or then again, maybe not?


I think it's relevant, yeah.

I have to think about that. I think there's a definite difference between saying what the flag means to you, and saying what it doesn't mean.

"To me, the flag represents freedom and justice and independence."

vs.

"The flag does not represent war and oppression, no way."

My concern is that some people might not understand the difference. Does that make sense?


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:18 pm 
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morecuminthancumin wrote:
I think there's a definite difference between saying what the flag means to you, and saying what it doesn't mean.

"To me, the flag represents freedom and justice and independence."

vs.

"The flag does not represent war and oppression, no way."

My concern is that some people might not understand the difference. Does that make sense?


Indeed it does.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:45 pm 
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IsaChandra wrote:
That said! Thanksgiving is like the most vegan holiday ever. I mean, I think it's a day where people go vegan at high rates, more so than New Year's even. I have no real stats for that, it's just what it seems like to me. It's also a great day for outreach and a day in which veganism gets plenty of media attention, so I think vegan Thanksgiving is really important. In my sci-fi vegan future imaginings, reclaimed Thanksgiving is the most important time of year.

I agree that Thanksgiving seems like the perfect "gateway occasion" to veganism; I can't help wondering if the fact that so many people go veg at this time of year might have something to do with all those construction paper handprint cut-outs and cardboard pictures of jolly turkeys in 17th century outfits we were exposed to as kids. In any case, because it's the holiday most overtly associated with food - most if not all holidays include special foods, etc., but Thanksgiving in particular has the big meal as its centerpiece - it's pretty ideally positioned in terms of opportunities to reinvent what that big meal consists of.

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Last edited by Desdemona on Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:52 pm 
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IsaChandra wrote:
I think it is similar, but just as you can't dismiss what Thanksgiving means to someone you can't dismiss what Thanksgiving means to most people. So in my professional opinion as long as you know what's up with Thanksgiving and how it's a big lie and all that, then we're kosher. But I take hella umbrage* when people are like "No Thanksgiving means stuffing and family" and don't acknowledge what it has meant historically.

That said! Thanksgiving is like the most vegan holiday ever. I mean, I think it's a day where people go vegan at high rates, more so than New Year's even. I have no real stats for that, it's just what it seems like to me. It's also a great day for outreach and a day in which veganism gets plenty of media attention, so I think vegan Thanksgiving is really important. In my sci-fi vegan future imaginings, reclaimed Thanksgiving is the most important time of year.

*I don't say "hella" or "umbrage" but "hella umbrage" has a certain ring to it.


I have an issue with Columbus day (that yes, I didn't realize until last month that it was still a holiday). Columbus day seems to be celebrating raping, pillaging, genocide, etc. It is interesting that Thanksgiving type celebrations were part of many native american traditions, so it even seems like it is something that was adopted from the natives. Certainly Thanksgiving as traditionally taught seems to indicate that the colonists were at peace and welcomed by the natives at the time. 'Sure, come take our land, eat our food, we'll help you survive, no worries about us'. I would hope though that people would realize that it was a huge thing for the natives that chose to help the colonists and they certainly didn't expect the betrayals that followed.

And if people believe native americans are 'doing just fine' then I'd tell them to read up.

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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:26 pm 
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It seems to me that most holidays have this double meaning. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. There is the "happy, commercial" side and the "what really happened" side.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanksgiving? No, thanks.
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:25 pm 
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linanil wrote:

I have an issue with Columbus day (that yes, I didn't realize until last month that it was still a holiday). Columbus day seems to be celebrating raping, pillaging, genocide, etc. It is interesting that Thanksgiving type celebrations were part of many native american traditions, so it even seems like it is something that was adopted from the natives. Certainly Thanksgiving as traditionally taught seems to indicate that the colonists were at peace and welcomed by the natives at the time. 'Sure, come take our land, eat our food, we'll help you survive, no worries about us'. I would hope though that people would realize that it was a huge thing for the natives that chose to help the colonists and they certainly didn't expect the betrayals that followed.

And if people believe native americans are 'doing just fine' then I'd tell them to read up.


This seems to relate to what you're saying: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrArbtXNbnM

The documentary that this clip is taken from is about the man in the video. I haven't seen it.

ETA: Two people mentioned Columbus Day in this thread. A lot of people are really anti-Columbus Day, but don't feel as strongly about Thanksgiving. I wonder if it's the "food, family, give thanks" aspect of Thanksgiving that sets it apart from Columbus Day, or if it's something more. I think it's hard for people- myself included- to really step back and look at the days objectively. We hold Thanksgiving so close, and people can get very defensive about it. If Columbus Day happened to be the day on which we celebrated with family, gave thanks, and ate lots of delicious food, would people (people in general, this is hypothetical) embrace Columbus Day like they embrace Thanksgiving?


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