COMMENT: Thanksgiving is more about consumerism than being grateful

The holiday of Thanksgiving originated in celebration of the pilgrims in America expressing their gratitude to the Native American people who showed them how to grow crops in the harsh climate of a foreign land.

However, in modern times the holiday has become no more than an excuse to get the family together to eat, drink and watch American football before going out to shop on Black Friday.

Thanksgiving has been so influenced by American consumerism that it is no longer even held on the original date it used to be celebrated on.

President Abraham Lincoln had originally set the date for the holiday on the last Thursday of November. The date stayed that way until President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed it to the second to last Thursday of November.

While Roosevelt’s intentions were to give the people an extra week to shop for Christmas in an effort to help end the Great Depression, he unintentionally tied the holiday to consumerism – something which has lasted to this day.

In the modern era, this tie-in to consumerism led to the creation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving is no longer about simply being grateful, it is now more about getting the Christmas shopping done at more affordable prices.

Black Friday has become so tied into Thanksgiving that some stores, such as GameStop, opened on Thanksgiving at 5pm and remained open until late at night for early Black Friday sales. Only to then be reopened on the morning of Black Friday.

There are also some stores like Best Buy who opened their doors at 5am on Black Friday which cut the Thanksgiving festivities for some families short so they could rest before getting up early to shop.

For some who have been away from America for a long time, all they can really remember about Thanksgiving is the food and nothing else.

“The smell of turkey and apple cider,” said Alexandros Ouzounis, a 21-year-old student from Texas at Richmond University, an American university in London.

“I have been in London for five years and that is really all I can remember about the holiday.”

Another American student at Richmond University, Anneca Wedell, said: “Thanksgiving is now really just a simple holiday where you eat with family.”

Wedell also noted that the rise of Friendsgiving is a welcome change. Friendsgiving is a version of Thanksgiving celebrated amongst close friends. Friendsgiving is usually held on a different day than Thanksgiving itself.

“Friendsgiving has become bigger and that’s nice,” she said. “It’s nice to schedule a different day outside of Thanksgiving to spend with friends.”

Thanksgiving was once a time to pause, be grateful and spend the day with family, or friends in the case of Friendsgiving. In a sense that may still be true for some, but for the most part, it has just become a simple meal to enjoy while watching American football, waiting for stores to open for Black Friday.

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