BU Today

In the World

Thanksgiving: The Making of an American Holiday

Think it’s all about Pilgrims? Think again

Click on the video above to learn the real history of Thanksgiving.

Pilgrims in tall black hats and Indians in feathered headdresses may be the most commonly recognized emblems of Thanksgiving, one of America’s most popular national holidays (it surpasses Christmas as the busiest travel time of the year). But the real origins of the holiday have little to do with Plymouth Rock and a lot more to do with a nation in turmoil during the Civil War — more than 200 years after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620. BU Today asked anthropologists Merry White, a College of Arts and Sciences professor, and Tony Barrand, a CAS professor and a University Professor, to give us some insight into the foggy beginnings of America’s favorite day.

Devin Hahn can be reached at dhahn@bu.edu.