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Science

Behind The Curtain On T-Day 205

Posted by Zonk
from the stuffed-with-stuffing-and-other-stuff dept.
Ant writes "MSN Encarta has Columnist Martha Brockenbrough's article on the myths of this American holiday. From the article: 'A lot of what we know to be true about Thanksgiving really isn't. Determining exactly what did happen is difficult. For starters, we don't even know for certain if the Pilgrims served turkey, although it's a strong possibility.'" Additionally, maotx writes "Contrary to popular belief, turkey does not make you sleepy. While purified tryptophan is a mild sleep-inducing agent, there is not enough in turkey to have a sedative affect. And on top of that, turkey isn't even unusually high in tryptophan compared to other foods, such as beef or soybeans. So for those of us enjoying turkey today, bring on the turkey and have a Happy Thanksgiving!"
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Behind The Curtain On T-Day

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  • by adeydas1 (933567) <adeydas1@yahoo.co . i n> on Thursday November 24, 2005 @01:41PM (#14108485) Homepage Journal
    ... that's why the beer goes with it.
    • I always thought it was being full that made you tired, as all your energy is busy digesting this huge fatty meal.
      • Also being full and in the process of digestion causes your body temperature to rise, which makes you sleepy. Studies have been done that show that worker productivity generally falls in the hour or so after lunch and it is thought that this is because of sleepiness from increased body temperature.
        • Bzzzzttt.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jpellino (202698) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @04:31PM (#14109306)
          The "post-prandial dip" occurs in people who are bedridden and IV-fed, and is actually accompanied by a decrease in body temp - which means it's not due to a rise in body temp or a result of eating.

          There is on top of that a sleepiness after meals that comes from a dip in blood sugar once insulin kicks in following the ingeston of sugars. The feedback loop of blood sugar and insulin is usually a bit laggy.
      • >> it was being full that made you tired

        No, it's your family.
    • While the effect may or may not come from some element of turkey, it definetely makes my drowsy. I eat a turkey sandwich for luch and I definetly feel it, placebo effect or not.
      • Exactly what I was thinking. While the turkey may not chemically make you tired, we've formed such a strong association between turkey and tiredness--either through observation or by being told that there's enough tryptophan in turkey to knock you out--that, at this point, your brain releases the appropriate chemicals to make you tired. It's classical conditioning.
        • I'm not even sure about that much. I noticed feeling tired on days when I ate turkey sandwiches for lunch before anyone told me that it made you feel that way. Granted, I noticed this in my 12:45 statistics class, which was pretty dull, but that class was only two days a week, and I didn't have the problem the other 3 days of the week.
      • While the effect may or may not come from some element of turkey

        By "element of turkey" do you mean Turkonium (Tu), the Turkey atom?

  • by Rob Parkhill (1444) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @01:43PM (#14108494) Homepage
    The first myth about Thanksgiving is that it occurs in November. Everyone knows that the real Thanksgiving happens in October.
  • by toddbu (748790) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @01:43PM (#14108496)
    I've gotten to the point where I can't stand turkey any more. You cook a huge bird and eat it for the next month, then do it all again for Christmas. This year I'm staging a revolt and eating steak.
    • Us Canucks are lucky that way - nicely spread out for us. Either way, my family does roast for Christmas. A nice marinated eye-of-round stuffed with bacon and spices.
      • stuffed with bacon

        Would that be Canadian bacon, or American?

        Us Canucks are lucky that way - nicely spread out for us

        Well, I'm glad that it's good for you, because it totally screws those of us who are US and married to Canadians. Not only do I have to eat Turkey for a third time in October, but then I have to listen to all that drivel about how Canadian beer and cigarettes are so much better than those in the US, when it's obvious that the reverse is true. I think that all the cold up there has a b

        • Would that be Canadian bacon, or American?

          In Canada it's not called "Canadian bacon", it's just called "bacon".

          Canadian beer and cigarettes are so much better than those in the US, when it's obvious that the reverse is true.

          You got facts to back up this claim? For the beer anyway?

          I mean, really, who in their right mind can't tell that a Krispy Kreme donut is so much better than one from Tim Horton's? :-)

          Krispy Kreme made a hasty retreat back to the US when no one was eating them anymore. Though, I would p
          • In Canada it's not called "Canadian bacon", it's just called "bacon".

            Uh, no. Canadian bacon is called back bacon in Canada. Bacon by itself is the same as what Americans call bacon.
          • I mean, really, who in their right mind can't tell that a Krispy Kreme donut is so much better than one from Tim Horton's? :-)

            I've never had a "Tim Horton's" donut, but I got $50 that I like them better than Krispy Kreme. It doesn't take much effort to do so...

            Krispy Kreme donuts are the worst donuts I've ever had. I think they are in league with KFC, taking the excess chicken fat that KFC doesn't use (not a lot, I know), and shaping them into circles to serve.
        • What you refer to as Canadian bacon looks like ham to me or it might be called back bacon. Bacon is the same here as it is there.

          What you Americans call regular beer would be called "light" beer here. Regular beer in Canada has a much higher alcohol content.

          I cannot comment on cigarettes since I don't smoke but Krispy Kremes are just sugar and lard. Where is the bloody flour? I'm guessing that you guys don't dunk your donuts in coffee.

          • What you Americans call regular beer would be called "light" beer here. Regular beer in Canada has a much higher alcohol content.

            This part is false. American beer (and alcohol in general) is sold as percent alcohol by weight (ABW) whereas Canadian beer (and almost everywhere else) is sold as percent alcohol by volume (ABV). They're actually quite comparable when you convert from one to another. A 5% ABV beer is roughly 4% ABW. The actual amount of alcohol in a beer is pretty much the same.

            What you do fi

        • US beer is better than Canadian? Wow, why don't you Canucks drink water instead? I mean, come on! If it is worse than the "beer" that is sold in USA, it's reason enough for a revolution. What Americans call beer, I call chemical water, tasting like shit. People should be executed for calling that concoction beer!
          • What Americans call beer, I call chemical water, tasting like shit. People should be executed for calling that concoction beer!

            America's a big place. We have cheap crappy beer, cheap not-crappy beer, and expenisve very-good beer.

            Really, though, beer is all just a chemical water that tastes terrible. It just happens to be the most cost-effective and time-expensive way to imbible alcohol, which mnakes for a good fodder for those who prefer to drink for an extended period.
            • Chemicals in beer? Not other than natural ones, found in water, barley, hops, malt and yeast. However, what the majority of Americans manage to swallow is as far away from beer as I'm from the moon! Budweiser? ROFLMAO! Miller? LOLOLOLOL The only brand (mass produced that is) that can be called beer is Samuel Adams.

              The situation is ofcourse quite different when it comes to micro-breweries et al, but then again, Joe Sixpack can't even pronounce microbrewery, not to mention visiting one and trying to have a b
              • The situation is ofcourse quite different when it comes to micro-breweries et al, but then again, Joe Sixpack can't even pronounce microbrewery, not to mention visiting one and trying to have a beer rather than whatever-it-is-they-put-on-bottles-and-call-beer he normally drink and call beer.

                "microbreweries" are, by and large, no better than mass-produced beer. If you don't care for the thin beer that Budweiser et al produce (and many don't), there are darker beers produced by slightly smaller breweries, in
            • Canada is a big place too. I prefer microbreweries like Lighthouse Brewing Company [beeradvocate.com] or Okanagan Springs [okspring.com]. The latter produce a beer with no preservatives or pasteurization in keeping with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. They just use Water, Barely, Hops and Yeast.
        • US and Canadian beer aside, all pales in comparison to the ales of the UK!
    • Ummm, you're supposed to have people over to help eat the turkey... : p
    • I don't do Turkey for both. Might I suggest a fine Christmas Ham instead?
  • Tell me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dystopian Rebel (714995) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @01:44PM (#14108500) Journal
    What do the North American Indians celebrate?
    • Re:Tell me... (Score:5, Informative)

      by oxi (320147) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @02:20PM (#14108660)
      Good point.

      Native people I know don't "celebrate" this country's history as is encompassed in the myth of "Thanksgiving" or it's twin, Columbus Day. They instead mourn for those whose lives were taken so long ago. The story as has been told in school rooms for decades is fallacy that doesn't hold water. It glosses over the horrors that people of the First Nations were subjected to in the Americas. By just focusing on Tisquantum (or Squanto) you get a glipse of what hundreds of thousands of more people would eventually be subjected to. A good television series that goes in depth on what the Wampanoag Nation experianced is "500 Nations", available on DVD at the usual places.

      It would great if the geek brethren that assembled here on /. would take it upon themselves to dig beyond the official history and into reality's sad truths with as much zeal as we use in picking apart the latest FUD coming from the Micro$oft.

      More on Tisquantum:
      http://members.aol.com/calebj/squanto.html [aol.com]

      And here's a more personal account of how one Native person spends the day with her family:
      http://www.purewatergazette.net/nativeamericanthan ksgiving.htm [purewatergazette.net]
      • Re:Tell me... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Seumas (6865)
        "Native" people? You mean the original asians that crossed over into the country a long time before there were actual "Indians"?

        Guess what. It's all old shit that I don't care about. And guess what? I'm not a hypocrit, because I'm not sitting around gorging on turkey and shit all day praying to baby jesus for the wonderful new car he gave me or... whatever.

        I'm in the office, getting work done while others slack off. My Thanksgiving dinner will be a coke and a microwavable "hamburger" from the downstairs ven
    • by zulux (112259) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @03:07PM (#14108900) Homepage Journal
      What do the North American Indians celebrate?

      Thanksgiving. But they drink their Wild-Turkey. [wildturkeybourbon.com]

      (one ticket to hell, window seat please)


  • At least for those of us in the UK :)
  • Does it actually exist outside The US of A or am I a total ignoramis or both?
    • Actually only about 6% of the world population actually cares about thanksgiving.

      But this is slashdot after all.
      • According to wikipedia...

        Thanksgiving is closely related to harvest festivals that had long been a traditional holiday in much of Europe. The first North American celebration of these festivals by Europeans was held in Newfoundland by Martin Frobisher and the Frobisher Expedition in 1578. Another such festival occurred on December 4, 1619 when 38 colonists from Berkeley Parish in England disembarked in Virginia and gave thanks to God. Prior to this, there was also a Thanksgiving feast celebrated by Francisc
        • And since we are playing selective quote, here's one further down from that same page :

          An extract from chapter 17 of the book Where White Men Fear to Tread, by Russell Means:
          "When we met with the Wampanoag people, they told us that in researching the history of Thanksgiving, they had confirmed the oral history passed down through their generations. Most Americans know that Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag had welcomed the so-called Pilgrim Fathers - and the seldom mentioned Pilgrim Mothers - to the shores
      • Actually only about 6% of the world population actually cares about thanksgiving.

        Which is really sad. Doesn't the other 94% have anything to be thankful for, or is it that they're just so bitter about life that they can't see the blessings that they have?

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Which is really sad. Doesn't the other 94% have anything to be thankful for, or is it that they're just so bitter about life that they can't see the blessings that they have?

          We're thankful every day we're not living in America with arrogant pricks like you.
    • As a European from Southern Europe, I only know about thanksgiving from American movies and television. Same goes for Halloween (although we do have carnivals the last 3 Sundays before the 40-day fasting for Easter).

      There is a trend, though, to "internationalize" these American celebrations, mainly for consuming purposes I guess (part of the globalization matters).

      I'll let others talk about their experience.
    • In my opinion, the best explanation of what Thanksgiving is comes from U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation, copied from today's Salt Lake Tribune, of all places:

      The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soft

    • Um, I know wikipedia is much derided (and justly so in some cases), but just go there [wikipedia.org] for questions like this.

      It has a fairly good write up, at least as far as I went into it. And it mentions football.

      Happy thanksgiving to the Americans on /.

      Disclaimer: I celebrated last month.

    • I think many countries have a harvest festival; that goes back a lot further than America has even existed. Japan's Thanksgiving is on November 23, but they just view it as another day off. They celebrate small fall festivals per locality during September and October, which usually involve pulling around a large danjiri float, dancing, and making a general ruckus. It's very entertaining.
  • by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @01:49PM (#14108530)
    I notice she doesn't even bring up the point that there is a lot of evidence that the first Thanksgiving in the New World was held in Virginia (I believe at Berkley Plantation). There's evidence both ways, but the VA Thanksgiving has enough backing it that it can't be ignored.

    But suggesting to most Americans that it wasn't the Pilgrims must be a little too much for some to consider.
  • ...computers and positive karma on /.
  • by moofdaddy (570503) * on Thursday November 24, 2005 @01:52PM (#14108545) Homepage
    Turkey doesn't make you sleepy?! Now how am I going to get my girlfriend to fall asleep so I can play with the antique toys she won't let me touch?
  • by Doviende (13523) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @02:01PM (#14108584) Homepage
    "Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough. But it's also true that by 1637 Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders."
    from Robert Jensen's Give Thanks No More [zmag.org]

    here's another part of it i found interesting:

    Any attempt to complicate this story guarantees hostility from mainstream culture. After raising the barbarism of America's much-revered founding fathers in a lecture, I was once accused of trying to "humble our proud nation" and "undermine young people's faith in our country."

    Yes, of course -- that is exactly what I would hope to achieve. We should practice the virtue of humility and avoid the excessive pride that can, when combined with great power, lead to great abuses of power.

    -doviende [anarchocyclist.ca]

    • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @02:09PM (#14108627)
      by 1637

      Yes, I'm really going to have to talk to my grandparents about that. Oh, wait... that was almost 400 years ago.

      Any chance we can just enjoy the tradition as it is currently enjoyed by millions of people? You know - in the general spirit of family togetherness, and blissfully minus too much of the commercialization (um, other than transportation use) that makes the rest of the holidays such a mess?
      • "Any chance we can just enjoy the tradition as it is currently enjoyed by millions of people?"

        absolutly right! who cares about the bloody history of how america was founded? its not like it has any baring on americas conduct in the world today or anything.

        "those who forget history...."

        • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @04:18PM (#14109245)
          who cares about the bloody history of how america was founded? its not like it has any baring on americas conduct in the world today or anything

          True, we could have just let the bloody regime that formed the colonies stay in power, and it could have had a non-stop, continual bloody fight with the French, the Spaniards, and everyone else with an interest in more land, gold, etc.

          This will be easier: give me a run-down of the cultures and geographical spots that do not have a bloody history going back several centuries, so that we can get all of our societal guidance from them. Western Europe? Nope. Eastern Europe? Nope. Central/South America? Nope. Asia (in any quarter thereof? Nope. North America before the Europeans showed up? Nope. Australia? I could use a refresher on their history, but don't think that continent is free of bloodletting. Hmmm.

          Yes, forgetting history can be an aspect of repeating it... but what makes you think that's a peculiarly American thing? Or that America's history is any more bloody than, say, the Middle East, or the Caucuses, or anyplace else? Now, review the most recent 200 or so years of global history, reviewing the frequency with which the people in each culture and country have had regular, peaceful, democratic changes in government every few years. The US has had its procession of leaders and representatives partially interrupted by one civil war, but has otherwise performed civilly, not bloodily.

          At no point during that history has gathering around a table with family been somehow less about gathering around a table with family. Whether or not some sects or towns or states have made pronouncements along the way about other meanings of the (age old) harvest feasts held this time of year, such gatherings provide their own meaning - and for most people (not counting turkeys), it's peaceful and a moment to reflect on giving a damn about at least some members of our families.
      • Sure, but that thinking is reflective of the fact that most Americans are wholly unaware of their history/heritage and could care less.*

        Things like slavery, Native American massacres, corruption, lynchings, etc are a fundamental part of what America is, but nobody wants to talk about it.

        Thanksgiving can be whatever you want it to be, its just that for most people, it only reflects a stylized & idealized version of the past.

        *I'd discuss how people are unaware of the facts behind thanksgiving in the same
      • perhaps you should read the article i posted [zmag.org] ;)

        here's another quote from it, which references your response:

        But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, "Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?"

        and i particularly like this one:

        O

  • by nagora (177841) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @02:02PM (#14108589)
    As a Brit I had always assumed that the "thanks" were being "given" to the Indians for showing them how to grow corn and bringing all that nice food so they didn't starve. Just shows.

    TWW

    • I comment on your comment because of the lack of points to mod you as insightfull.

      I have allways considered thanksgiving day to be a hipocritical celebration based on propaganda instead of history. A celebration of the fact that history is nothing more than the legends of the empires.

      Perhaps we should rewrite thanksgiving day to give it the meaning that you believed to be true. It is the least that we can do to apologize for the native american holocaust that we started after they helped us survive in t
    • by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Thursday November 24, 2005 @04:20PM (#14109253) Homepage Journal
      Given that much of the food had been brought to the Pilgrims, and what food the Piulgrims had had been grown only with Native American knowledge, you're essentially correct. I'd assumed that it had been a corruption of the English "Harvest Festival" and that the fetish with corn was related somehow to the ancient British tradition of making "corn dolls" out of the last corner of uncut crop.


      (I don't know how old the tradition was, but the idea was you chased the spirit of the crop into a corner of the field, by harvesting the rest, then trapped it in a figurine made from the stalks of what was left. The following year, you planted the figurine, so releasing the crop spirits back into the field.)


      Since Thanksgiving involves exactly the same basic elements, it seemed likely to me that the Pilgrims had borrowed from what they would already have known and merely shaped it to serve their purpose. I still believe there must have been some elements of that, but maybe nowhere near as much as I'd thought.

  • Ha, if the pilgrims had not been locked into a proprietary file format, we would know what really happened...
  • Tryptophan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uberchicken (121048) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @02:21PM (#14108664)
    From what I remember on my research into serotonin..

    Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used by the brain to manufacture serotonin. It's present in all protein, and usually you have plenty of it in your bloodstream. However, it can only get into the brain piggybacked on another molecule, and it has to compete with other amino acids for this ride. One way to soak up the other amino acids is to produce insulin with a carbohydrate-only meal. The insulin removes enough of those amino acids to allow more tryptophan into the brain, thereby providing more raw material for serotonin production.

    I'm sticking with the Prozac though.

  • This Smithsonian article [si.edu] covers some of the same ground in much better and revealing detail. Via a diarist at dkos.
  • I give thanks for not living in a country filled with George W's, RIAA's and patent offices.

    Let's celebrate! :D

    *Ducks flying tomato*
  • by Bob_Robertson (454888) on Thursday November 24, 2005 @02:48PM (#14108806) Homepage
    One of the other posters here is correct, the Virginia colony very likely had a harvest festival before the Plymouth colony did, if for no other reason than they started a dozen years earlier with exactly the same communal-property=starvation results.

    However, if we are going to discuss the "why"s and "wherefore"s, it would be educational to remember that William Branford, the first governor of the Plymouth colony, wrote it all up.

    Here are some articles with links to the original:

    From http://www.mises.org/story/336 [mises.org]

    In his 'History of Plymouth Plantation,' the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with "corruption," and with "confusion and discontent." The crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."

    And from https://www.mises.org/story/1678 [mises.org]

    The Pilgrims' unhappiness was caused by their system of common property (not adopted, as often asserted, from their religious convictions, but required against their will by the colony's sponsors). The fruits of each person's efforts went to the community, and each received a share from the common wealth. This caused severe strains among the members, as Colony Governor William Bradford recorded:

    " . . . the young men . . . did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong . . . had not more in division . . . than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc . . . thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And the men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it."

    Or if you really just want the undigested original:

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1650bradford.ht ml [fordham.edu]

    "The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; and that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort."
  • Contrary to popular belief, turkey does not make you sleepy. While purified tryptophan is a mild sleep-inducing agent, there is not enough in turkey to have a sedative affect.

    First of all: EFFECT. Sheesh.

    Secondly, the explanation "tryptophan" came about to awnser the question "why do we all feel sleepy after eating the turkey". So if the explanation is wrong, it doesn't mean the observation was: Double sheesh!
  • For starters, we don't even know for certain if the Pilgrims served turkey, although it's a strong possibility.

    Yes, an extremely strong possibility...given that the turkey was (heck, still is in certain parts of this fine country) an extremely abundant animal, and very commonly hunted by the natives (and later the colonists) for meat. It's almost a certainty that they did. And even if they did not, the turkey itself became such a common source of food for colonial Americans that it often helped keep famil

  • That's what bugged me about the Wikipedia article. It's traditionally a religious festive day, is it not ?
    But the "relig" (religion, religious, etc.) doesn't even appear on the wiki page.

    Now, I know it's probably not viewed as a religious festive day anymore, and more of a social/family gathering thing. But what do people here think ? Thanksgiving Day is a religiuous festive day - yes or no ?

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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