If recent years are any indication, this year we’ll be treated, yet again, to a smattering of articles about the supposed politics behind Thanksgiving, and how the bad guys (whether on the left or right) are opposing all things decent by refusing to celebrate the holiday in a way that promotes the correct political agenda. On one side are the leftists who feel compelled to use Thanksgiving as an extension of Columbus Day, in which we’re all reminded that it’s a bad thing to steal from indigenous tribes. One the other side are the conservatives who insist on making Thanksgiving into a day celebrating a national origin story. July 4, it seems, isn’t enough for them.
Unfortunately, both of these efforts at hijacking the holiday for political battles refuse to go away. Fortunately, it appears that the vast majority of Americans don’t care, and most plan to enjoy the holiday in the way it has been enjoyed for about 150 years: as a celebration on domestic life and economic prosperity.
The Evolution of Thanksgiving As a holiday, Thanksgiving has gone through several different forms. As described in James Baker’s study of the holiday, Thanksgiving: The Biography of An American Holiday, there had been a variety of Thanksgiving traditions practiced throughout the US, but few of them closely resembled the Thanksgiving we now know today.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 23, 2017.