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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Do Latinos Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving Day


Sometimes people in this country and around the world wonder why latinos celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a celebration of a festive reunion between the native Indians, original owners of this part of the Americas, and the new settlers, who were welcomed by them…or just had to accept them, because they decided they could come to these empty lands, escaping from the political and religious turmoil that had risen in Europe because these daring group of people had defied their king and church.   They packed up their stuff, and off they went to better lands where they could start fresh and carry on their lives and express their ideas with nobody censoring them. 

Those were the times when the Americas were seen by the Old World as the land of opportunities by people who were fed up with their system and wanted to start a new life, like the pilgrims of Massachusets, or by others, as a possibility to expand their territories to find new commercial routes to compete with the already taken ones.  It was the time when the powerful, the war winners, conquered and divided.

And so it was that Columbus and company wanted to please the Queen of Spain and his pockets and decided to get some financing and ventured through the seas with his ships, thinking that maybe he could reach a dangerous point where he could fall to an abyss…because in those times they didn’t know that the world was round.  You see, these monarchs were very ambitious and were always looking for more territories and riches to integrate to their already existing possessions. Those men who wore horns on their heads, the Vikings, had been more daring, and long time before, went on an adventure and came to the Americas, but didn’t make a big deal of it.  Now, Columbus, although he was Italian, lived in a time when Spain and France were big monarchic potencies, and he recognized that he could turn to Spain as an aid to his ventures.  And so it was that he discovered America and its riches and traced the way for Spain to come to these parts of the world. And Spain acquired so many territories, that they turned into the “owners” of more than 200 settlements in these parts of the world.  And because they were deeply catholic and had the roman influence, they used religion as an excuse to justify their conquests in the name of God.

And so it was that when the US was not yet US, those pilgrims, who have heard that the Americas existed, believed, according to the idiosyncrasy of the conquerors of those times, that they could settle in this part where the Spaniards had barely not touched, because it was the land of nobody; and they came uninvited, because that was the way the world was then.   Meanwhile, England was busy with its internal problems because of its political instability, but realized that they also could expand and get part of those riches if they hurried up. But they came late to the cake’s distribution and it cost them a lot of problems to compete with their neighbors in the Old World.  But the dissidents’ decision really opened a way to their ambitions to have a presence in the Americas and get some monies from the colonies.  But that is another part of the story…

Meanwhile, it happened that in these lands, there had been fights and disagreements between emperors…between brothers…and maybe, they were trying to get some mediators to solve their problems.  And so when these tall, white, bearded men came, who at first did not speak their language, and were not like them, but let them know that they had a powerful God who could maybe talk with theirs and help them with their problems, they decided to give it a shot and gave them shelter and let them live with them because they were poor and misunderstood where they came from.  And so it was that with time, languages and cultures mingled and a new society rose. 

Soon, however, the Indians found out that these religious men had problems of their own.  They fought with each other claiming property of a property that was not theirs…maybe some of them were getting less attention from the Indians than others?  The thing is that these white men had brought with them to the new lands, some new sickening bugs, and they passed them to the native people.  And since the bugs had a new environment in which to multiply, they rose among the Indians transformed and more powerful than ever, and killed them by the bunches, because on those time there was no good medicine to prevent them from spreading the germs or cure them.  Somebody had to take over… And that was how it was, that the smart men, with the mightier God than theirs (must be because they built their churches and houses over theirs as a sign of power) slowly took over the Indian properties, and with time and more settlers trying to gain access to these lands, the “leftover Indians” lost their predominance and in the forming US, they were sent to live in reservations, where their culture was just history and no good for these days.  Gradually, this land of the English, with Independence from them, decided to welcome the forgotten of the world, and they even planted a big statue in the sea, which had an inscription which read a welcome sign to them.  And many came; and among them, the latinos of all over, who had been around long before the English, as I pointed out before.

But being that these things happened, white men didn’t realize that culture is something that remains forever in the veins, in the minds of people, and it is not a prerogative of any conqueror to destroy it. And they didn’t realize that by coming to an already populated area and living in it, as it would be forever, they had to mix and benefit and acquire gradually its culture; and theirs would no longer be what it was before… It is blended, like a salad. The Native’s culture comes to aid the subjugators, because on the contrary of what they think, the whites are no longer pure whites and the natives are no longer pure natives.  Their bloods have mixed.  And so, they have to thank each other for their cultures and celebrate together, no matter where they are; whoever their God is, He let them be, and now they have each other and now they can love each other hoping to have peace between each other. And now these peoples who were welcomed by whites (who were not so white anymore), because they needed their help to form and make prevail this country, among them the latinos, have to celebrate together and thank God because He helped them keep the best of their smartness, that now is born in their genes, and makes this country great. That is why latinos, who are no longer only latinos, because they also contribute to this greatness and share its culture, can also eat turkey and celebrate Thanksgiving Day!



Lucy Valdivieso                                                                                                             November, 19, 2011