The Real Reason We Eat So Much On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and as with any holiday, it's important to understand why we celebrate it and why we partake in certain traditions. In Thanksgiving's case, people across the United States cook and bake massive meals in remembrance of the Pilgrims coming to America. More specifically, a 1621 harvest feast enjoyed by the Pilgrims is what our modern Thanksgiving meals emulate (via Britannica). The meal symbolized the unity of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native American tribe, and Canada celebrates their own Thanksgiving holiday, too.

Nowadays, many people only think of Thanksgiving as being a special day to relax, rekindle with family and friends alike, and enjoy good food. Everyone hunts for the best recipes, though many stay with the classics that have been passed down generationally. Still, there are alternatives to make on Thanksgiving if you don't like turkey, and some Thanksgiving sides are better off bought from the store. (We won't tell!)

We eat on Thanksgiving for both historical and psychological reasons

Sometimes, traditions evolve, and some wonder how Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year. However, it may be safe to say that many will maintain their annual feasts, though one might wonder why we eat so much on Thanksgiving. The answer? Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday by the United States government in 1870, and it's meant to be a time of embracing everything people have received from both other humans and the planet (via Food52). Eating on this holiday, then, is a sign of respect for the sacrifices of the planet, animals, and other humans who brought this food to us.

A century before it was made a national holiday, George Washington recommended Americans take a day to feast and rest, even calling it Thanksgiving. Then, according to Food52, Alexander Hamilton supposedly said, "No person should abstain from having turkey on Thanksgiving Day." Americans followed suit, and turkey is consumed by most on Thanksgiving to this day.

At the same time, we eat a lot on Thanksgiving for psychological reasons. Our bodies have adapted to the holiday over time, meaning it psychologically recognizes that we should eat a lot on that day (via The Washington Post). Moreover, humans eat more when they're stressed because eating can help the brain relieve stress, per Nutritious Life. Holidays are notoriously stressful, so Thanksgiving and Christmas both see people eating more than usual for this reason.

It's for multiple reasons, then, that we eat a lot on Thanksgiving. The takeaway? Enjoy yourself this year, and indulge if you can. You deserve it.