happy thanksgiving: rituals, relatives and rolls.



7 Overlooked Thanksgiving Rituals,

According to Sociologists

The first major sociological study of Thanksgiving appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research in 1991. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with people about their experiences of the holiday.

They also had 100 students take detailed fieldnotes on their Thanksgiving celebrations, supplemented by photographs. The data analysis revealed some common events in the fieldnotes that people rarely remarked on in the interviews. Here are some Thanksgiving rituals you might not realize are rituals:

Teenagers are given a ritual status shift to the adult part of the family, not only through the move from the kids’ table to the grownup table, but also through the career counseling spontaneously offered by aunts, uncles, and anyone else with wisdom to share.

Oh no! I forgot to put the evaporated milk in the pumpkin pie! As the authors of the Thanksgiving study state, “since there is no written liturgy to insure exact replication each year, sometimes things are forgotten.” In the ritual pattern, the forgetting is followed by lamentation, reassurance, acceptance, and the restoration of comfortable stability. It reinforces the themes of abundance (we’ve got plenty even if not everything works out) and family togetherness (we can overcome obstacles).

Remember that time we cooked a green bean casserole and burned the house down? Another way to reinforce the theme of family togetherness is to retell the stories of things that have gone wrong at Thanksgiving and then laugh about them. This ritual can turn ugly, however, if not everyone has gotten to the point where they find the disaster stories funny.

Transfer a store-bought pie crust to a bigger pan, filling out the extra space with pieces of another store-bought pie crust, and it’s not quite so pre-manufactured anymore. Put pineapple chunks in the Jello, and it becomes something done “our way.” The theme of the importance of the “homemade” emerges in the ritual of slightly changing the convenience foods to make them less convenient.

The pet is fed special food while everyone looks on and takes photos. This ritual enacts the theme of inclusion also involved in the inviting of those with “nowhere else to go.”

In some cultures, feasts are followed by a ritual destruction of the surplus. At Thanksgiving the Puritan value of frugality is embodied in the wrapping and packing up of all the leftovers.

After the eating and the groaning and the belly patting, someone will suggest a walk and a group will form to take a stroll. Sometimes the walkers will simply do laps around the house, but they often head out into the world to get some air. There is usually no destination involved, just a desire to move and feel the satisfied quietness of abundance โ€“ and to make some room for dessert.

credits: mental floss magazine, the graphics fairy

50 responses »

  1. 8. People not getting along, sitting far away from each other, arguing, etc.

    At least that’s what most people tell me that they don’t like about holiday get-togethers. Oh,andโ€ฆ

    9. Men falling asleep or watching TV.

    I’ve never known anyone to go outside for a walk, so that one was weird for me:)

    I’m looking forward to your holiday stories:) Have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are classic, necessary, and a bedrock of sturdy familiarity, hilarity and comfort, Beth. You are a master of putting your finger on the elusively obvious. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. Enjoy the day with kids and grands.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 5. I remember one year when I still had my little cat that she jumped up on the kitchen table while we were eating and was tasting the whipped cream out of the mixing bowl. I would give the pets some of the turkey too. Probably will again today with my brother in laws dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I often wonderd what our pets thought of this funny day set aside for eating. Fun article Beth. Surprisingly, most environments are like that – if you actually take the time to go and see, there is a whole slew of stuff that goes on that is never mentioned. Some of it quite funny and some scary. But inevitably more interesting than the agreed upon activities.

    Happy Turkey Day Beth!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lol. I loved 3 4 7. This Englishman doesn’t do the thanks giving meal and living in Italy I have never seen a large turkey for sale in the butchers. I may have to change this as I have lots to be thankful for. Especially as I have managed to hide Mrs Sensibles wet wooden spoon.

    Happy holiday from rainy Italy

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I fell way behind on my reading, it was kind of a hit and miss thing, Beth! I would start to read someone’s post up at my Mom’s then a resident would ask me to relinquish the computer to them. So, somehow I did not read this one and a few others… This was a funny post, Beth!
    I love the advice one, there is always a family member who is full of this. Also, the ones who suggest how to fix things including food dishes. I finally told one of my brothers that he was “in charge forever” over the cranberry sauce from scratch! smiles!

    Liked by 1 person

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