The Meaning Of Thanksgiving Essay Ideas

Thanksgiving Essay examples

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The truth behind the tradition is surprising. Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims seem to go together, but the truth is, the Pilgrims never held an autumnal Thanksgiving feast. However the Pilgrims did have a feast in 1621, after their first harvest, and it is this feast, which people often refer to as "The First Thanksgiving". This feast was never repeated, though, so it can't be called the beginning of a tradition, nor was it termed by the colonists or "Pilgrims" a Thanksgiving Feast. In fact, a day of thanksgiving was a day of prayer and fasting, and would have been held any time that they felt an extra day of thanks was called for. Nevertheless, the 1621 feast has become a model that we think of for our own…show more content…

The truth of the matter is, when the Pilgrims arrived, they found an abandoned Wampanoag village and moved right in. In 1618, a massive epidemic of an unknown disease left by English explorers swept across Wampanoag country and decimated many of the villages. This epidemic caused the death of ten to thirty percent of the total population and all but a few of the 2,000 people of the village of Patuxet. When the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, they landed at Patuxet with no idea of what had occurred. At this point, there were only about 2,000 members left in the Wampanoag tribe, down from 12,000 in 1600. Despite the incredible losses to his people, Wampanoag leader Massasoit and 90 of his men sat down for a harvest celebration offered by the white men. For three days the Wampanoag and Pilgrims feasted on deer, wild turkey, fish, beans, squash, corn and other foods native to North America. Although the celebration was good-natured, this event truly signifies the beginning of a drastic decline of native culture and Thanksgiving would be more fittingly observed as a day of mourning rather than a celebration. In the years that followed, skirmishes occurred and more Native Americans were killed. In 1637, English soldiers massacred 700 Pequot men, women and children as an example of the English way of war, yet we still celebrate Thanksgiving as a joyful event. So, as we sit down for our Thanksgiving dinner,

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Perfect for journals, writing centers, bell work, or discussion! Try some of these with your students:

  1. Pretend you are a very smart and special turkey. You can both understand English and write (you type with your beak)! Write a letter to Americans to convince them NOT to eat turkey for Thanksgiving.
  2. Make a Top 10 list of things that you are thankful for in your life.
  3. Most stores used to be closed on Thanksgiving, with many opening early on Friday for the first of the holiday sales. Now, some stores are having their sales on Thanksgiving Day. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad one? Write a paragraph supporting your viewpoint.
  4. You get to write the script for your favorite TV show’s Thanksgiving episode! Write a summary of the plot of the episode you would write. Or, for a longer project, write the actual script.
  5. Write an acrostic poem for one of these words: TURKEY, THANKSGIVING, GRATEFUL, FAMILY.
  6. How was the first Thanksgiving different from the Thanksgivings we celebrate today? In what ways are they the same?
  7. Write about a special Thanksgiving tradition in your family.
  8. Would you prefer to have a small Thanksgiving dinner with just your immediate family or attend a large dinner with lots of extended family and friends? Why?
  9. Explain Thanksgiving to a person from another country who has never heard of it.
  10. Many Thanksgiving hosts set up a “children’s table” where all of the children are seated for the meal. As a child yourself, would you rather sit at the children’s table or have the children and adults all together at one table? Why?
  11. Would you have preferred to be a pilgrim or a Native American? Why?
  12. Pretend you were at the first Thanksgiving as a pilgrim. Write a journal entry about your day.
  13. How would Thanksgiving be different if it was celebrated in August instead of November?
  14. In what ways do you think Thanksgiving will be different 50 years in the future?
  15. You have been given a pet turkey. How will you take care of it?
  16. Write a descriptive paragraph about your favorite Thanksgiving dish. Use lots of sensory details.
  17. What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving? Why is it your favorite?
  18. The newspaper headline is: Turkeys Escape from Turkey Farm Just Days Before Thanksgiving. Write the story.
  19. What does being thankful mean to you?
  20. Write about a special Thanksgiving memory.


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