Welcome to The Study where I will take an aspect of the latest Just the Facts* and delve in to it in a deep and meaningful way in order to bring further clarity to that aspect.
I would hope that you leave here having confusion and uncertainty wiped from your brain and carry instead a full understanding of what exactly is going on here.
Although my Study posts appear on a Saturday, I actually write them on a Thursday. As it happens, this Thursday is something called Thanksgiving so I thought I’d educate myself and yourselves and get a bit more in depth about Thanksgiving.
*The Study may not be about anything that was in Just the Facts at all but I’d have to write a whole new paragraph at the top for that.
Thanksgiving, despite the stock picture of a roasted turkey used, appears to be about pumpkins. Certainly when I entered the search term ‘Thanksgiving’ into the stock photo site, there were about 183 pictures of pumpkins and just one of the turkey. At that early and more innocent stage I was under the impression that the turkey was more associated with Thanksgiving but this statistical evidence points to it being more about pumpkins.
As the internet has shrunk the world and – probably due to it being packaged and sold by American firms – seems to have made America culturally prevalent everywhere whether you like it or not, Thanksgiving is a primarily American celebration of pumpkins that is impossible to not be aware of wherever you are, although some confusion about why it exists um.. exists.
Certainly I was confused about it. Whereas before the internet I was just completely ignorant of Thanksgiving, and happy enough in my ignorance, the internet has brought the festival to our social media feeds continuously. Now both you and I know, due to this Study, that it’s really important in America to Americans and it’s about pumpkins.
Early Thanksgiving came about when the pilgrim fathers landed and got off their ships – they were very thankful that they hadn’t had to swim any of the way. History does not show whether this was a Thursday or not.
I haven’t turned up who they thanked. At first I thought it might have been the shipbuilders for doing a good job but soon discovered that they had chosen not to travel on the ships they built for some reason. The sail makers and rope makers were probably in for a fair thanking too but in the end I expect it was just the wind.
The pilgrims stopped off in the Netherlands before popping over to America and they were thankful to have got there too. To this day, the Netherlands also has a Thanksgiving holiday but they never got the pumpkin thing, it’s still all about floating boats, tulips and windmills there.
On arrival the pilgrims met some people who were already living in America first. They were happy to share a few tips about surviving in their land with a few of these new pale-looking sailors with funny hats.
Legend has it that they all had a friendly celebratory meal which was where the pilgrims had their first taste of pumpkin pie. As a thank you, the pilgrims had a bit of a preach and then asked where the best place to build their first church would be.
This might have been on a Thursday, which was fine as the pilgrims, being puritan, didn’t do alcohol so having a celebration on a school night didn’t matter to them.
Incidentally, Thanksgiving being on a Thursday is possibly only because of the alliterative qualities, although the existence of the following Friday being black and there not being a Moaning Monday, Turbulent Tuesday or Weak Wednesday tends to disprove this theory.
Somehow during the gap between pilgrim fathers arriving and now, Thanksgiving lost its original meaning of being grateful that your boat didn’t leak and has become all about the pumpkins.
A pumpkin is a big orangey-yellow gourd that Americans seem to love the taste of. In fact, ‘pumpkin flavour of love‘ is literally the first thing that googling ‘pumpkin flavour’ comes up with.
I didn’t think of the ‘pumpkin flavour of love‘ originally but other people must search for it a lot. I don’t know how that works exactly and I don’t think I’ll do any in-depth research on it.
They also search for what is the best thing to pair with their pumpkin after they’ve loved it, so obviously the pumpkin loving only lasts a short while before needing to pair it off with something else.
As you can also see, pumpkin flavoured anything is so rare in the UK that it is often searched for on the internet to find it, probably by Americans in the UK who can’t believe we only grow a handful every year for carving with at Halloween and don’t actually eat the things.
Due to pumpkin being sweet in flavour, Americans traditionally make a dessert called ‘Pumpkin Pie’ with it. This has never caught on in the UK due to it being a stupid idea to serve a vegetable as a dessert. If it was a fruit, fair enough, add sugar and a few spices, make a pie.
If they had done a pumpkin pudding however it might have caught on, because we don’t entirely dismiss the occasional stupid culinary idea in the UK (mushy peas for example) and if we do have one we’ll generally make a pudding (pease pudding for example) with it.
There are some other things that are ‘traditional’ at Thanksgiving which makes it look suspiciously like ‘Christmas – The Prequel’. Eating turkey and brussels sprouts for example.
So, in summary, Thanksgiving is something they do in America with pumpkins on a Thursday in November, even with Christmas just around the corner.
We don’t do pumpkins at all in the UK so it makes no sense to us.
Happy pumpkins America!
Come back next week when I’ll probably write something else on a Thursday for you to read on the Saturday when it’s all over.