Editorial: Hooray for leftovers!

The custom of families getting together for good fun and food on Thanksgiving remains unwaveringly. The traditions of inspiring and encouraging good-natured feelings of togetherness, pitching in with food and coat drives to help others less fortunate, and giving thanks for blessings are all worthy of keeping intact.

As for our traditions on the origin of Thanksgiving, that’s another matter. Simply put, the Pilgrims played a much lesser role than we acknowledge. The English, the Dutch, the Spaniards, the Nordic people and others who explored and settled here held celebrations giving thanks, often steeped in religious traditions and cultures, well before 1621. Those rituals developed their own American roots later. And thanksgiving celebrations had also been part and parcel of the lives of indigenous peoples, Native or American Indians, whose heritage goes back many thousands of years. Pilgrims were not even mentioned as part of the national Thanksgiving tradition until President Hoover’s proclamation of 1931.

To the people who bemoan the commercialization of the holidays, especially the ever-earlier openings of businesses on Thanksgiving, that’s not a 21st-Century phenomenon. For example, in 1879, Bridgeport retailers advertised a shopping extravaganza, with “lowest prices on Earth!” bargains and theatrical performances by children and adults, all happening on “Thanksgiving Evening,” according to the Connecticut Historical Society, which has posted the ads at its website.

Thanksgiving celebrations have kept the holiday going strong. Reinventing such occasions and celebrating in our own ways are other great American traditions. In any case, who can resist the best part — the leftovers?