Thanksgiving has been an American tradition since 1621. But the diversity of students on campus is a reminder that not every person living in America will be eating turkey and watching football on Thursday.
Since elementary school, the story of Thanksgiving is etched into the brains of American students through plays, parades and crafts. And who could forget the story of the first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims celebrated with the local American Indians in Plymouth?
But America isn’t the only country with a tradition of giving thanks. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving similarly with parades and big meals, but with one difference: Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. The American Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November.
Similar holidays have been celebrated for thousands of years, according to www.holidays.net . Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans held festivals honoring their harvests. These festivals lasted for days and included parades, music, dancing and, of course, a big meal. The Egyptians celebrated Min, their goddess of vegetation and fertility, while the Greeks and Romans celebrated their goddesses of corn, Demeter and Ceres respectively.
But students at USF have many different plans for celebrating Thanksgiving this year. Kristina Kendall, a sophomore majoring in pre-business, is going camping at Fort DeSoto with her family.
“My mom’s side of the family goes camping. My grandparents don’t camp, they stay at their house to cook the turkey and bring it to the camp,” Kendall said. “My aunt and uncle have a motor home to cook everything else.”
The camping tradition began three years ago for her family, but they skipped it last year.
“We did something else last year but it wasn’t as fun. Everyone wanted to go back to camping,” Kendall said. “It’s fun. We roast marshmallows and meet some of the same people every year with the same weird tradition.”
Hamzah Mubarak, the public relations coordinator for the Muslim Student Association and a junior majoring in international studies, is going to a family reunion in Charlotte, N.C., to take advantage of the time off from school and work.
“I personally don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a Muslim celebrating it,” Mubarak said. “I don’t believe that there has to be a certain day in a year for us to show our thanks to God for everything that he has given us. Rather, every day should be a day of thanks.
“Our whole religion has similarities to this day of thanks,” Mubarak said. “We believe that one should give prayer and thanks to God in every moment he can.”
Seth Lott, a senior majoring in bio-medical science, has a more traditional Thanksgiving.
“I go home to Inverness and have a big dinner,” Lott said. “We always have friends of the family who come over, and we always have turkey and cornbread stuffing,” he said. “That’s my favorite.”
Joy Levine, a senior majoring in communications, said she spends Thanksgiving with friends.
“I always go to a family friend’s house because my extended family can’t get along,” she said with a laugh.
Giving thanks has been a tradition for many years, whether it started as gratitude for a good harvest, a goddess or a good semester.