What HAPPENED to Thanksgiving?

In years past, there was no mistaking the run-up to Thanksgiving. There were decorations set up. Television specials. Supermarket deals. Touching newspaper stories. Costumes and skits. Even the occasional tirade about celebrating the genocide of the indigenous tribes (the 90’s were like that). Every comic strip I’ve ever read did some kind of Thanksgiving entry, even Dykes to Watch Out For. And of course, the greeting card industry always got into the act.

Hawaii has a large, influential Catholic population which owns numerous schools. I went to a couple of them, and make no mistake, they wholeheartedly considered Thanksgiving to be a holy day and took it VERY seriously. I know I went to more than one church service, to say nothing of all the crafts and activities.

So I was at the mall on November 23, which you may recognize as the last Saturday before Turkey Day. The TV was also on that day.

NOTHING. No decorations, no sales, no costumes, no news, no promos, heck, not even a commercial.

Now, Thanksgiving being completely engulfed by the Christmas season is nothing new (I read about in a book in Waldenbooks, to put it in perspective). But it was visible. Its existence was undeniable. I could understand it fading out if it was like Presidents Day or Veterans Day, where we, y’know, don’t actually do anything, but Thanksgiving’s trappings and rituals are completely hard-wired. Fourth Thursday in November. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, corn on the cob. Black outfits and tall hats. Two NFL games. A big parade sponsored by a luxury department store. Honored traditions all.

And making it ever more glaring is the fact that Halloween, another single-day event with tenuous religious relevance, and which is not and has never been a holiday on any level, has completely blown up. I first saw the decorations and candy out in September, at least two malls had haunted houses, and on the day itself, there was so much going on islandwide that the freeway, with NO accidents or stalled vehicles, was an absolute morass.

Has this happened where you live? A national holiday that once had great significance just, one year, flat out disappearing?

For all the talk about the “War on Christmas,” the demise of Thanksgiving as its own holiday has been precipitated by the expansion of Christmas. Halloween blowing up has squeezed from the other side. Thanksgiving is now the time where you gather with your family and… go Christmas shopping.

It was always the day after, but now it’s the day itself, along with numerous Christmas sales even before Thanksgiving.

You guys need to move it to early October, like we did. :slight_smile:

While I agree that Thanksgiving gets a lot less media attention these days, I’ll worry about something “happening” when it stops being the busiest travel week of the year.

Why do you need affirmation of a holiday through the observance of everyone else also celebrating it, in only and exactly the way you think it should be celebrated, in every minor detail?

If you admire a holiday, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other, please observe it in the way you think appropriate, with your family, with your friends, with as many people as also think as you do. Why must you demand that everyone bow to your vision of what these, or any holiday, must be? A holiday should be what each of us sees in it, and if your only pleasure in a holiday is that every person you know of, to the ends of the earth, enjoys it in exactly the way you intend, then your celebration of it is not one of shared celebration of a common pleasure, but hollow observance of shallow tradition.

That’s what happened. Everyone decided what they wanted to celebrate. Deal.

I can’t decide if it’s funny or sad that stores seem to be determined that Black Friday last all week.

Great. Then Christmas will start then too.

Christmas is not supposed to start until Santa shows up at the end of the Macy’s parade. But we have a typical race to the bottom - if store one opens at midnight store two can open at 10 pm Thanksgiving day and so on.

The only way to defeat this is if everyone stayed home on Thanksgiving.
As if that’s ever going to happen.

Sorry to nitpick but they now have three NFL games on Thanksgiving.

all the holidays should get moved to fair weather months.

look at the number of people killed on the road trying to get to holiday celebrations with bad winter driving conditions. if air travel is used that jams up too costing people tons of money and time.

for people like Canucks well they can have their celebrations via webcam or something.

To me, Thanksgiving was always about giant apes.

Growing up in the New York metro area, one of the local TV stations was WPIX. Every Thanksgiving they ran a marathon of ape movies - King Kong and its sequels, Mighty Joe Young, etc. Now it’s all lost to history and kids today will never make the logical connection between Thanksgiving and giant primates. It’s sad.

I agree with everybody here. Christmas has moved up, Halloween has moved down, and ‘Black Friday’ has moved out in both directions.

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if modern perspectives on European colonialism (and American expansion) helped to put a little bit of a damper on a lot of the traditional Thanksgiving trappings of the last century.

Yeah, growing up I remember being taught that Thanksgiving was the big Harvest feast. I heard the story about the Pilgrims and the Indians more times than I can tell. Indian corn, gourds, shocks of hay, etc. were in the local stores. Christmas didn’t come until Santa hit Macy’s [as Voyager already noted]. I miss it, but it’s the semi-triumphal march of desperate commercial consumerism, so whatcha gonna do?

Corn on the Cob? In November?

Which is still later than the end of the Macy’s parade.

I’m not getting how the Macy’s parade represents a glorious bygone era when Thanksgiving and Christmas were separate. Seems to me it was always about “Thanksgiving as the kickoff of the Christmas shopping rush.”

Seriously, if you are relying upon capitalism to tell you how and when to celebrate holidays, you deserve all the recreational outrage opportunities that present themselves.

For me, Thanksgiving is exactly how it always has been – get together with extended family and have a traditional (potlucked) feast, all go for a leisurely walk together afterwards. Go home with leftovers. The only difference is that now that I’m Catholic, I go to Mass that morning. It’s a nice special Mass – people bring non-perishable food for the poor, and something intended for the family dinner to be blessed. When we can swing it we have people reading prayers in different languages so that the “melting pot of America” aspect can be celebrated.

Shopping frenzy? No one in my family does that. Watch sports? No one in my family does that. Watch parades on TV? I think we last did that in the 1960’s.

Christmas is a lot like Thanksgiving except with decorations, cookie decorating, wreath making, and in my case a lot more church. We gave up the gifting thing years ago, when the youngest kids became teenagers. If there was another generation of children it would be different but so far, no.

We don’t spend more money or gain any weight over the holidays but we manage to celebrate them perfectly well it seems to me.

Isn’t it enough that people whine about the fictional war on Christmas each and every year? Times change, put the big girl panties on and deal with it. You want to stay home and have your favorite meal? Great! You want to go to the movies or shop? Great! It’s our holiday and I think we should all do as we want without guilt trips about ruining some supposed sacred holiday. We’ve got four days off from work. Let’s just enjoy them.

Yeah, um, no. Not a holy day.

Shopping on Thursday is wrong because it screws workers out of a holiday. But I have no problem with Black Friday. (I wouldn’t be caught dead near a store that day, but that’s just me.) I object to Black Tuesday before Black Friday.

There’s a difference between a Holy Day of Obligation, when you supposedly MUST go to a Mass which may not be on a Sunday – there are only a few of these and most of them have to do with Mary – and special Masses that are held because in that country it is traditional to do so, or even just a tradition in a particular parish. New Year’s Eve, for example, is a common one.

OTOH, we got our first “Happy Thanksgiving” card yesterday. The very first one I have ever even seen. Is this going to be a thing now?