The Role Of Thanksgiving Rituals In American Culture

550 Words3 Pages

As studied by Janet Siskind, the American Thanksgiving celebration is actually a very detailed ritual that contains many symbols. Similar to other rituals, the holiday reinforces certain social structures and “…reaffirms values and assumptions about cultural and social unity, about identity and history, about inclusion and exclusion” (168). The Thanksgiving ritual is centered around a return home, as people traveled from their urban homes back to their rural home to meet with their larger family. As a result, “the household became the site of ritual performance…” (175). The goal of the Thanksgiving ritual was to reaffirm the family and renew traditional ties, especially as more people had started moving into the cities around the time that the holiday became popular in the United States (176). By removing themselves from their typical daily lives and retreating to their family, they would emerge with renovated family ties. …show more content…

At the core of this tradition is the food, including the turkey. This celebratory turkey feast, according to Siskind, is a symbol for the conquering of Native American tribes. The turkey is noted for its both wild and domesticated likenesses, similar to the Native Americans (179). The Europeans first began eating turkey upon their arrival in North America, as the turkey was traditional only to this region. Therefore, “as a true ‘native of America’ the turkey, wild and domesticated, could easily become a symbol for those other natives” (ibid). The turkey represented a group of people that was native to the North American land. However, even this symbolic turkey was just a symbol of an essentialized view of Native American tribes

Open Document