It’s the celebration that kicks off the festival season! As winter waits around the corner and the year inches to a close, families and friends gather together for Thanksgiving.
As with many traditions that have become a part of our lives over the centuries, few know the reason or rationale behind the holiday. There are many versions—some factual, some far-fetched, and many that fall somewhere between the two. Yet, there can be no mistaking what the celebration is all about: expressing gratitude for the many blessings that we take for granted most days and many that truly make us feel grateful for our good fortune.
For many Americans, listening to the story behind Thanksgiving has become a tradition in itself. For instance, millions tuned into popular radio host Rush Limbaugh’s retelling of the tale for close to three decades.
The story of Thanksgiving dates back to the arrival of the Pilgrims on the shores of the New World, what is now America. At the turn of the seventeenth century, many fleeing religious persecutions under King James I of England sought refuge in Holland. Close to a dozen years later, financed by the merchant-sponsors in London, about forty of them set sail to the New World, discovered by Christopher Columbus. They hoped to set up homes in a land free of oppression.
The Pilgrims set sail on August 1, 1620, on the Mayflower. It was a long and perilous journey to an unknown and strange land. Yet, they were willing to face the journey and the hardships that lay ahead for religious freedom and just society. William Bradford led the forty pilgrims. They all agreed to a contract derived from the Bible, which established “just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs.”
The arduous voyage ended on a cold November day. When the Mayfair arrived in New England, the first Pilgrims set foot on the continent. Initially, the desolate, barren wilderness proved almost too much for the settlers. In an unfamiliar land, an ocean away from their peers, the newcomers found it hard to survive. According to accounts of the time, half of them perished in the first winter of starvation, sickness, and extreme weather.
With spring came renewed hope. The Native Americans befriended the settlers and showed them the lay of the land. They taught the first settlers to cultivate corn, fish for cod, and hunt for fur. Better equipped with these skills, the Pilgrims established their first settlement - the Plymouth colony.
Many consider the feast celebrating the Pilgrims’ first harvest in the early 1620s, which is said to have lasted for three days, as the “first Thanksgiving.” The celebrations were attended by 90 Wampanoag (Native Indians) and 53 Pilgrims, according to Mr. Edward Winslow, who was present himself. In addition to a good harvest, the occasion is also said to express gratitude towards the Native Americans who welcomed the settlers and taught them crucial life skills.
Despite learning to farm and fish, life did not magically become easier for the inhabitants of the Plymouth colony. The Pilgrims continued to face hardships due to their indebtedness to the moneymen who bankrolled their voyage and, in their efforts, to tame the foreign land.
William Bradford, who was by then the Governor of the colony, did away with the contract drawn up on the Mayfair. Instead of collective ownership and equal shares, he assigned land to each family, encouraged them to produce to the best of their ability, and trade on their own. With the new incentive, the settlers prospered. News about their prosperity traveled across the ocean, and more migrants arrived on the shores of the New World, paving the way for the Great Puritan Migration. Based on these developments, Rush Limbaugh has often said that Thanksgiving is the celebration of the establishment of private ownership and a free market.
More than a century later, President George Washington, at the behest of the Congress, issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation in which he “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Since then, barring a few exceptions, the holiday has been marked on the fourth Thursday of November.
The Founding Fathers of America deemed it essential that, as a nation, the people set aside a day to reflect upon their lives and express gratitude for the many favors they enjoy. Centuries later, the power of gratitude has gained more attention than less. Today, the talk is about its psychological benefits and immune-boosting powers. Expressing appreciation for the good, it is said, paves the way for more.
From its early days, Thanksgiving has stood the test of time. Today, not just the descendants of the Pilgrims but Americans of various ethnicities celebrate the federal holiday. It is the time for families and friends to share a celebratory meal and take stock of the year. It is the time to prepare for winter, knowing spring will follow. It is the time for a universal currency, that of gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving to you!
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Little Red Children And 'Grandpa Xi': China's School Textbooks Reflect The Rise Of Xi Jinping's Personality cult
Each textbook on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era, as Xi's political philosophy, is officially called.
While prior textbooks focused on the CCP, the new versions center on China's paramount leader. In this way, they reflect the growing personality cult of Xi Jinping, eerily reminiscent of the days of China's founding father, Mao Zedong.
According to China's National Textbook Committee, the "textbooks reflect the will of the Communist Party of China and the nation and directly impact the direction and quality of talent cultivation."
Like Lenin, a personality cult around Mao Zedong emerged during China's Cultural Revolution (1966–1976).
Although later leaders Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's economic reform, and Wen Jiabao, who was Premier between 2003 and 2013, are popularly known as "Grandpa Deng" and "Grandpa Wen," they did not overtly push for this image.
The Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats offered several progressive steps in their new coalition contract announced Wednesday.
The key deal appeared to be between the two junior partners in the coalition: The Greens and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP). The environmentalists were able to secure the target of ending Germany's coal industry "ideally" by 2030.
The sale of cannabis for recreational use from licensed stores is to be legalized, voting is to be made legal from aged 16, and the notorious Nazi-era Paragraph 219a (which largely bans any advertising or publicized information about abortion care) is to be scrapped.
In addition, a new citizenship law is to be introduced, which will make two crucial things easier for millions of immigrants in Germany. The immigrants will be allowed to gain citizenship after as little as three years in the country, and they will be allowed to keep their prior nationalities upon naturalization.
With Taliban nod, companies have begun 'inspections' of possible projects to tap lithium deposits.
Besides the five companies present in Afghanistan, another "at least 20" state-owned and private firms had made inquiries about lithium projects, the committee said.
The Taliban Government has said it would welcome Chinese investment and support President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative and extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha, who assured Beijing that "a friendly policy towards China" was "a firm choice" by the Taliban.
The UN nuclear watchdog said Wednesday there had been "no progress" in talks with Tehran on disputes over Iran's atomic program monitoring just days before talks restart.
Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a quarterly meeting of the agency's board that talks he held in Tehran on Tuesday were "inconclusive" despite being "constructive."
Grossi had sought to tackle constraints put on IAEA inspections earlier this year, outstanding questions over the presence of undeclared nuclear material at sites in Iran, and the treatment of IAEA staff in the country.
Grossi's visit came ahead of the scheduled resumption on Monday of negotiations between Tehran and world powers aimed at reviving the 2015 deal that gave Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
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