Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Thanksgiving traditions

While many University of Wisconsin students consider Thanksgiving a time to take a break from school, return home and eat delicious food for a change, the true meanings and origins of the holiday are still remembered.

UW life sciences communication professor Patty Loew said the celebration of Thanksgiving, while good-intentioned, is an opportunity to explore diversity more fully.

She pointed to the example of Squanto, who many children grow up hearing helped the pilgrims survive winter, as an individual who knew how to speak English only because he was previously kidnapped and sold into slavery.


After Squanto escaped from slavery he returned to his village, only to find no one there because they were infected with diseases brought over with the pilgrims, she said.

In addition, the pilgrims established villages with charters and land grants on land that did not belong to them, Loew said.

“Those are the stories nobody ever talks about,” Loew said. “It’s really important for us to understand the different layers of Thanksgiving.”

These types of things going untaught in public schools and unacknowledged by society point to the fact that society still maintains a Eurocentric view of history, Loew said.

In fact, according to Loew some indigenous groups consider Thanksgiving a national day of mourning.

Loew said looking at Thanksgiving from the perspective of Native Americans would help people face the darker side of America’s history.

Talking about diversity means going beyond race and ethnicity to include such things as different worldviews, gender and socio-economic status, Loew said.

However, despite the historical discrepancies involved with Thanksgiving, Loew said it still celebrates some of the same things those at the first Thanksgiving celebrated.

“It’s always been a holiday that celebrates the harvest, family and friends,” Loew said.

It is in the spirit of these traditions that UW students head home for the holidays, hoping to catch up with family, eat good food and just relax.

UW freshman Bridget O’Brien said her Thanksgiving traditions include eating dinner with her family and watching football.

This year, rather than join her extended family, the holiday will only include her nuclear family. O’Brien said as she has grown up watching football has become more important than watching parades.

Also gathering in a smaller group is UW junior Becky Kovalaske, who said her extended family has not met in such a large group since her grandmother passed away.

She still looks forward to going home for Thanksgiving dinner with her family, though, and also for having time off school.

Kovalaske said despite the years since the first Thanksgiving, it is still a family-oriented holiday.

“It’s a celebration and an excuse to see all your family… it’s good,” Kovalaske said.

The food is what UW freshman Billy Garcia said he looks forward to most, even though “it’s nothing out of the ordinary” such as turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potato casserole with little marshmallows on top.

Garcia’s Thanksgiving has changed in that the food has gotten better each year, thanks to the culinary skills of his mother and aunt. His family continues to grow, which also makes the holiday special.

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