Thanksgiving has taken a new meaning

It’s that time of year again.

Thanksgiving is approaching and celebrations have changed considerably. What was once sitting around a table making thanks for a successful harvest, is now spent by lounging on a couch cheering on football games or searching for the best Black Friday shopping deals.

“I think the meaning of the holiday has shifted certainly,” says Edward Cook, Associate Professor of History at University of Chicago. “Originally the religious dimension was a central issue. The turkey is now the central focus or the football game.”

The original Thanksgiving harvest festival in 1621 consisted of people sharing any food they possibly could. Modern day festivities include meals fit for a king.

“I think it’s a good ceremony for people to reflect on what we have and to give thanks to who or whatever were willing to give thanks to for the fact that most of us have a lot to be thankful for,” says Cook.

The change of celebration from year to year begs the question: Have we lost the true meaning of Thanksgiving?

“I do think Thanksgiving is kind of outdated,” says Alex Pippenger, sophomore. “It doesn’t serve too much of a purpose any more.”

This year, many retailers such as Walmart, Macy’s and Best Buy are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, instead of Black Friday.

“I think the biggest change is that it has become more secularized.” says Cook. “If you focus on the football game or Black Friday, then the meaning of the holiday is lost.”

While some spend the holiday lined up outside retail stores or eyes glued to the TV broadcast of the football game, Thanksgiving still has its significance, a time to see family and give thanks for the good things you have in your life.

“I think Thanksgiving is important,” says Anand Lal-Tabak, senior. “It’s one of the few times family gets to come together and see each other. I get to see family that I rarely get to see.”

Not only is it a time to see family, Thanksgiving is also a time for personal reflection and giving thanks for what you have.

“I love Thanksgiving!” exclaims freshman Maggie Stone. “I think Thanksgiving is really great because it’s a way to give thanks…for everything you have and realize how much you have.”

While there is speculation over the importance and appreciation of Thanksgiving, Cook insists, “things will change one way or another, especially over the 400 years since Thanksgiving.”