is thanksgiving day a national religious holiday? if so, what is the national religion?
not only is it a day we americans set aside for eating vast quantities of narcotic tryptophan + bad carbs, while watching a parade hosted by a new york department store, it is the kickoff day for the holiday shopping season, preceding black friday, on which one customarily goes deeper into debt, joylessly searching for bargain gifts for underloved loved ones at the shopping centers (some hardy pilgrims will be showing up at kohl's at 4:00 a.m. on friday).
in tacit recognition of the real spirit of the holiday, 78% of employers give employees both thursday + friday off work. my employer + others give employees the wednesday before off, too, reportedly the busiest travel day of the year. in total, this is as much time off as employers give employees for july the 4th + christmas together.
i'm happy for any day off i can get, + eating is okay by me, too, but the nature of the holiday still mystifies me. the fourth thursday of november is not on the jewish, muslim, or christian calendar, is it? so is it or is it not a 'holy day'? + it can't be an entirely secular celebration because presumably we are giving to thanks to somebody, right? + if so, to whom? the turkey?
ostensibly, the day's for celebrating the end of harvest, which, let's face it, is hardly on anyone's mind in a nation where agriculture has dwindling importance and about 14% of the food supply is imported from other countries anyway.
the wampanoag tribe of massachusetts, even the mayflower pilgrims, may have lived a life close to the earth, but we post-moderns not so much.
curiously, thanksgiving day itself is not a shopping day. gifts aren't traditionally given then, + stores are usually closed for the day. it is kind of a lull before the storm that follows--a feeding frenzy that lasts just over a month.
for all its protestant trappings, thanksgiving day is perhaps the most decadent, pagan holiday we celebrate.