The evolution to modern day Thanksgiving

The history of Holidays has always been interesting to me, especially the evolution to the way a Holiday is celebrated currently. So, I decided to research the evolution from harvest festival to Thanksgiving.

Many Americans gather every year to have a nice meal with their family and give thanks to what is most important in their life, or something like that. My family doesn’t really do “thanks.” Either way, Thanksgiving is a long celebrated Holiday in America and I was curious where it all started.

image source: “Freedom of Want” by Norman Rockwell

Most of us probably know about the Pilgrim-Indian meal after Squanto showed sickly Pilgrims how to farm. However, many historians point out that this is more legend than fact. Truth is that historians aren’t really sure what happened on the “First Thanksgiving” and many Native Americans take offense to the widely taught version of the first Thanksgiving saying that it paints an all to sunny picture of relations between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people, in turn masking a long history between Europeans and Native Americans that caused the death of millions of people. So, because of the doubts of the history I’ll be focusing on how Thanksgiving evolved from when it was first declared a National Holiday.

Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday in 1863 at the height of the Civil War. Previously, many people had already celebrated Thanksgiving. Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a Holiday so Americans could ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving to be on the fourth Thursday of November. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt had moved Thanksgiving up a week to the third Thursday, to try and boost retail sales during the Great Depression. However, this was met with great opposition and it was then moved, reluctantly, back to the fourth Thursday of November, in 1941.

The food traditionally served at Thanksgiving has changed from venison (deer) during the Pilgrim times, to turkey currently. This may have happened because of the abundance of deer during the 1600s. The change most notably happened in the 1800s. A book written by Sarah Josehpa Hale titled Northwood; A Tale of New England highlights the ideal Thanksgiving feast, including: turkey, beef, pork, mutton (sheep), pickles and preserves, vegetables, custards, cheese, cake and pies.

Some things have been added to the Thanksgiving tradition more recently, such as cranberry sauce, which appeared in 1912 after Cape Cod Cranberry Co. started to sell canned cranberry sauce. Green bean casserole has been added as well.

For more information about Thanksgiving, visit the following sites:

http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/lot-digest-how-thanksgiving-feast-has-evolved-over-150-years-2d11656681

 

Things you shouldn’t say to people with mental illness

Mental health has been a hot topic recently, and there are many ways that people view those who suffer from mental illness. The most common mental health problems are: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whether you know it or not, some of the things you say to people with these disorders can cause more harm than good. Here are the most common things that are said that don’t really help people who suffer from mental illness feel any better.

In response to learning someone has depression: “You should try yoga”, “Have you tried happy thoughts?”, “But you have nothing to be depressed about.”

The issue with suggesting physical activities like hiking or yoga is that depression, especially that which is caused by a chemical imbalance, isn’t that easy to get rid of. It’s not simply feeling sad or blue; it is feeling so hopeless or worthless that the simple tasks of everyday life become challenging, and even waking up can become hard. Depression is not always situational, which is caused by deeply stressful occurences in life, but sometimes is clinical, that which is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain.

The best way to get rid of situational depression is getting rid of the stressor(s) in your life.

“You don’t look schizophrenic.”

This kind of goes for all mental illnesses.

Of course someone isn’t going to look like they have a mental illness, since mental illness is internal. You wouldn’t say to someone with heart disease that they don’t look like they have a heart disease.

Using “triggered” to describe someone who is upset.

Now, bear with me, because some of you may just think “You’re being too sensitive!”, but the word “triggered” is actually a word used in mental health rehabilitation circles. It’s used commonly in therapy for people who have experienced traumatic events including, but not limited to: sexual assault, abuse, and fighting in wars. Triggers can be certain words, smells, sights, or sounds. When people hear, see, or smell these certain things it will make the individual vividly remember their trauma. Triggers are common in people who suffer from PTSD.

In the case of sexual assault or abuse, triggers can be strange in the eyes of the person who is not afflicted, but that doesn’t make a trigger any less real for the afflicted person. There is no approved list for things that cause people to vividly remember traumatic experiences, since everyone’s brain makes connections differently.

“He can’t make up his mind! He’s so bipolar!” Or anything like that.

Bipolar episodes are not anything like common belief. Bipolar episodes can last up to months with one feeling manic and/or depressed. The switch between the two feelings is not within seconds like commonly believed. So, when you say this, you are trivializing, and minimalizing, a debilitating disorder to just being indecisive.

In response to anxiety: “Just stop being anxious!”

Wow, I’m cured. Do I even need to explain this? Anxiety can’t be controlled like this. No mental illness can be controlled. If it were, don’t you think people who suffer from it would just stop being mentally ill?

“I don’t believe in mental illness.”

Ok, good for you? That doesn’t change the fact that I’m definitely mentally ill. In fact that’s only proved to me that I can’t trust you enough to be able to talk about my mental illness.

“You’re just making it up for attention!”

When you say this to someone you are essentially telling them “I don’t value your feelings enough to believe that you’re actually going through a major problem that affects a majority of the populous, so I’m just going to assume you want attention.”

Trust me, in the case of depression, the last thing depressed people want is to feel like their depression is causing a burden on someone.

As someone who suffers from depression, the treatment of people with mental illness is a very important to me. All I’m asking for is a bit of empathy and understanding. How hard is it to be a decent person?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of mental illness, please contact a doctor, counselor, or adult you trust.

The origin and brief history of Halloween

It’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s almost Halloween, my personal favorite. Halloween is a holiday that, in modern times, celebrates ghosts, ghouls, zombies and anything spooky really. And of course, free candy! Who doesn’t love the free candy? However, Halloween is a very old holiday with a rich history that not many know about, including myself. So I researched the origin and history of my favorite holiday and here’s what I found.

Halloween originated in Celtic tradition with a festival called Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which was celebrated on the same day as modern Halloween. During Samhain people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. During this day, Pagans believed that the worlds between the afterlife and the living aligned, allowing ghosts to walk freely around the living world. They believed the ghosts would wreak havoc on their crops and spread illness.

In the 7th century, Pope Gregory III dedicated May 13th as a time to honor the saints, which included some aspects of Samhain, and during this time they would commemorate the dead.

In the 9th century it was changed to November 1st. Many historians believe it was changed to overshadow the Pagan festival. It was called All Saints Day, and the night before that was called All Hallows’ Eve which was later called Halloween.

By 1550s, Allhallowtide – a three day event, was recognized and almost obligatory in most of Europe. During these three days people would mourn the dead, dressed in black, and treat on soul cakes which were given out to remember the dead.

The 1700s is when some of the modern practices of Halloween come into play. People celebrating Samhain, would go door-to-door exchanging sung songs for food, and doing so while in costume, of course. Some would play pranks on people and hold lanterns made of gourds to imitate the malicious spirits that come out during Samhain. Even bobbing for apples was recorded in Scotland, but it was called “dooking.”

During the 1800s an influx of Scottish and Irish immigrants came to the U.S. bringing along their Halloween traditions.

Which brings us back to the present. Now, Halloween’s humble beginnings are but a tale lost, mostly, to time. And possibly bad record keeping.

For more information about the origins of Halloween, please check out the following websites:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/timeline-origin-halloween-article-1.2406149

http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

Documentary review: 13th

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

-The 13th Amendment

The amendment above, is what this documentary centers its historical timeline on. The documentary 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay, explores the history of U.S. racial inequality. 13th is filled with many shocking statistics, audio recordings of U.S. leaders, and videos of hate crimes against black people. The documemntary also focuses on the fact that the U.S. prison population is disproportionately filled with black people. 13th analyzes the way society views black people and the history behind the racist caricature of black people as thugs.

Usually I’m not a fan of documentaries, but this one is one that is worth the watch. While watching it, I couldn’t help but get engrossed in the way information was presented, and to be in shock at the statistics presented.

13th has a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.2/10 on IMDb, and recieved overall glowing reviews.

National Coming Out Day: General attitude and do’s/don’ts

National Coming Out Day is fast approaching on Wednesday, October 11th. With this in mind,  I would like to talk about how people feel on this day, and things to do and not do.

First things first; some do’s and don’ts.

  • DO be respectful

Coming out can be a hard thing for some people and the last thing they need is disrespect for being themselves.

  • DO say kind things if someone comes out to you

If someone comes out to you, be kind. Say “I’m here to support you.” Or “I will care about you no matter what.” Saying things like this will enforce trust in your friendship or any other relationship type.

  • DON’T out other people

It’s disrespectful to someone if you out them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think it’s not a big deal or that they should come out. It’s an invasion of their privacy. If they came out to you that means they felt safe enough and trusted you enough to tell you, and by outing them, you immeadiately demolish that trust system.

  • DON’T come out as straight

Considering everyone’s first assumption of people is that they’re straight, there is no need to say this. This is not your day. It is a day for a marginalized group to feel proud about who they are and not have to hide it anymore.

  • DON’T fake “out” someone

If your first reaction to this day is to out someone who’s not in the LGBT+ community as a joke, then don’t do it. Here’s why: It perpetuates a system of oppression that continually makes people in the LGBT+ community the butt of a joke.

  • DON’T force yourself to come out

It’s ok if you don’t come out. This day shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. Come out on your own terms.

  • DON’T pressure someone to come out

People may not be ready to come out or be in a safe position to come out. If you force someone to come out when it’s unsafe you may put your friend in a dangerous situation.

  • DON’T feel like you have to come out on National Coming Out Day

 Come out when you want to come out. Come out when you feel most safe, and ready to, and come out to someone you trust.

Next I’ll talk about the general attitude towards this day. For this I interviewed 9 people who are apart of the LGBT+ community and asked them 4 questions pertaining to National Coming Out Day. Here are some of their answers (if their name and sexuality appear, I obtained clear consent to use it):

Question 1: Why is National Coming Out Day important to you?

Laura Rutherford (trangender girl, bisexual): National Coming Out Day allows people to be their full selves.

Kaliyah Phelps (lesbian): It’s a day for LGBT+ people to use their voice and tell their stories.

Eva Semlak (lesbian): It’s a way to share experiences and talk about them openly.

Ally McGinnis (lesbian): It’s a day of awareness and visibility of LGBT+ people.

Mason Blumer-Lamotte (pansexual): Sheds light on the different types of people and it’s nice to have the option to come out.

Sār Chirhart (gay): A day centered around the courage to come out.

Anonymous: Normalizes being LGBT+ and makes it apparent that it’s hard to be yourself.

Generally most people mentioned that it’s important to highlight the courage, visibility, and vulnerability that it takes to come out.

Question 2: Do you think National Coming Out Day makes it easier to come out?

Mai Dao Thao (non-straight): I think it makes it easier to come out since everyone is doing it and it gives you more confidence.

Laura Rutherford: Yes because people aren’t doing it alone but there is also pressure to come out.

Kaliyah Phelps: Yes, sort of. It’s a lot of pressure for some but a perfect opportunity for others.

Eva Semlak: Yes, but also no. It shouldn’t be a specific day to come out but more of a recognition day.

Ally McGinnis: Yes, but also no. Yes, because it’s an invitation to come out and there’s a lot of support, but no because there a lot of pressure to come out.

Rocco Kyllo (gay): It’s always going to be hard, but it will make it easier eventually.

A lot of people had the same idea. It’s a lot of pressure to come out, but also if you feel none of that pressure it’s a great day.

Question 3: How do you feel about coming out on National Coming Out Day?

Mai Dao Thao: I came out before National Coming Out Day, and it won’t be a surprise or be special since everyone else is coming out.

Laura Rutherford: I didn’t come out on National Coming Out Day, but I felt a lot of pressure to.

Ally McGinnis: It’s cool and if you’re a celebrity it’s a good day to come out and be supportive of others coming out.

Mason Blumer-Lamotte: I personally wouldn’t because I wouldn’t want to put a timer on something so personal, but it’s up to the individual.

Rocco Kyllo: It’s a fun way to come out and it’s good for when you don’t know when to do it.

Anonymous: It’s great for people who need the support but could come to feel like an obligation.

The interview subjects generally felt that it’s good if you are ready to come out but that it could feel like an obligation or necessity if you’re not.

Question 4: What do you think are some “don’ts” of National Coming Out Day?

(I’ve included most of these don’ts in the previous section but I’ll add some of the ones I think need to be emphasized).

Mai Dao Thao: Don’t hate on people that come out because they built so much confidence to do it.

Kaliyah Phelps: Don’t tell them what to say or what not to say.

Ally McGinnis: Don’t out others

Rocco Kyllo: Don’t pressure people to come out

So what’s the take away? Don’t pressure someone to come out, don’t be rude to someone who comes out, and always be accepting of someone who is different than you, because our differences are what makes us human and interesting. The world would be a lot more boring if everyone was the exact same.