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Scholars Day 2007, Wednesday, April 11

The American Eating Holiday: Reflections on Thanksgiving

As fewer families in America sit down together to dinner and spend half every food dollar on eating out, that the majority of Americans continue to gather with family for a home cooked meal—the same home cooked meal—once a year is notable. Thanksgiving began as a holiday in the late 19th century to unify a burgeoning nation of immigrants, but it acquired an origin myth that claims greater antiquity. The Thanksgiving table has provided an apt setting for political cartoons and the Thanksgiving ritual and its symbols have laid a feast for the deconstructionists. As an anthropologist and the instructor of a class in Food and Culture I wanted to know how my students actually spent Thanksgiving Day, who gathered at their holiday tables, and what they ate. What were the elements of their Thanksgiving rituals? This paper takes a look at what they had to say.

Presenter: Margaret Blackman (Faculty)
Topic: Anthropology
Location: 208 Holmes
Time: 10:45 am (Session II)