A Glimpse Into Thanksgiving Traditions and History

With the brown, red, yellow, and orange leaves falling and the weather slowly getting colder, Thanksgiving will soon be here and most college students will go home to spend time with the people they love.

There is a rich history of how Thanksgiving came to be. The holiday started in 1621 when Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag joined together for a feast; however, Thanksgiving is also a National Day of Mourning for Native Americans due to the oppression and genocides that followed. Taking a break and reflecting on this time is important for those who celebrate and to acknowledge other cultures as well.

Thanksgiving break is also the time to wind down and reunite with friends and family. However, there may be students who do not have plans for Thanksgiving or may be bored over the break and seeking something to do Before the feast takes place, one can find fall activities around the state. For history lovers, Westfield, New Jersey offers a colonial Thanksgiving dinner filled with eighteenth century customs and traditional colonial American foods. This takes place at the Miller-Cory House Museum on Nov. 20 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For those who want to splurge and may not have time to cook, Perth Amboy and Weehawken offer a Thanksgiving Day Cruise. This cruise offers a lunch buffet and beautiful views of the ocean or New York City skyline.

Another classic activity is to gather around the TV to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m on NBC. Since 1924, the parade provides entertainment for the morning of Thanksgiving day. From floats to bands performing, this provides an electric start to the festivities to come. Some may even travel to New York City to witness the parade in-person.

Often, students who are from out of state do not see their family until this holiday break. Taking this time to unwind from school helps students decompress before finals. Connor Currie, a junior psychology and criminal justice student, is from Maryland. His immediate family is still there, and he believes that spending time together is important.

Currie said, “It’s so hard for them to come see me because of how much they all get up to down there. I’m only really able to call them or text. Plus, I haven’t seen them face-to-face in almost three months. Breaks are important because obviously, nobody wants to be doing papers or stressing all the time, but it also lets you rest and get you ready for what’s next, especially with finals soon after break.”

From baking treats to watching movies, family traditions begin to take place with the holidays around the corner, any tradition imaginable comes out.

Currie continued, “We start Thanksgiving morning off with blueberry muffins, and then have a sort of buffet throughout the day with a bunch of snacks and appetizers. While my parents prepare the food, my brothers and I usually do some cleaning around the house. We eat dinner early, so we have plenty of time at night to snack and watch movies.”

Some students and their families may not have traditions, but rather enjoy the sacred time together. Sarah Bilotta, a sophomore homeland security student, said, “My family doesn’t have any traditions on the day of Thanksgiving, but we cook and prepare the dinner together. Everyone volunteers to make one dish, whether it’s a dessert or side, so I can always expect a delicious spread from the turkey to the pumpkin pie.”

Whether cousins and distant family are coming from out of state, being at the same time and place together makes this holiday special. Bilotta continued, “A highlight of my Thanksgiving is being in the presence of all my relatives. Most of my family is from New Jersey, and I’m lucky to

see them frequently, but my sister works in Rhode Island so it’s about a three-hour drive to visit her, and I know I can look forward to seeing her at Thanksgiving. I’m also blessed to have all four of my grandparents alive, and witnessing four generations, regardless of location and age, come together in one room is the most important element of the holiday for me.”