Thanksgiving And Black Friday
The idea that Thanksgiving was anything else that a feast meant to thank and give praise to God for the harvest has always struck me as absurd.
The Pilgrims depended on agriculture for their survival. They came from a society still largely based on agriculture. They would obviously do what everybody else did, what had been always done where they came from. The Germans still have the Erntedankfest as a fairly well-known rural celebration.
Why would the Pilgrim not do what was always done? Why would they transform it in something different like, say, a celebration of the natives for the help given to them? These were, however misled their faith, very religious people. They would put God front and centre in everything they did. They would not get rid of a clearly important tradition and make of it something else, much less less something worldlier. Thanksgiving is clearly the continuation of what the European societies of the time had done for many generations.
Therefore, it is no surprise that the thank for a successful harvest would become so important in the new Continent, much more than it had ever been in the old one. Naturally, people choosing to literally jump in the dark in such a risky endeavour, and for which the prospective of collective starvation to the point of extinction was a very real possibility, would see the harvest as a sign of heavenly favour, and attach a very deep religious and emotional significance to it. It would, actually, be very strange if this had not been the case.
The simplest, most natural explanation is very often the right one. Thanksgiving was to the Pilgrims what it had ever been to everybody else.
By the way, here in the United Kingdom Thanksgiving has largely disappeared or has been relegated to rural folklore, like in the most European Countries.
However, everyone seems to know what Black Friday is. This is par for the course for a Country that seems to see Christmas as the Big Party Season.