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The Original Fantastical Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving of the Fantasticals: A Day of Rule breaking, and Spontaneous Mirth

Juan Cole has an AWESOME blog entry about the true origins of Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving was a Northeastern regional commemoration until Abraham Lincoln promulgated it as a national holiday in 1863, and it was celebrated in lots of different ways. One of those ways was for young men to dress up as women or in fantastic costumes and promenade, and mug, and make fun of authority. It was a "masculine escape" from the family, an opportunity to break rules and be outlandish.

Some historians suggest that the homey, nuclear-family Thanksgiving meal was a reaction against all this public rowdiness. Alas, so successful a reaction that the carnivale side of the holiday has been erased from public memory (Elizabeth Pleck, "The making of the domestic occasion: The history of Thanksgiving in the United States," Journal of Social History (Summer 1999) Vol. 32, Iss. 4; pg. 773, 17 pgs).

It makes me wonder if Trick or Treating was a replacement when people lost the cultural support for Fantastical Thanksgiving.

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