The Rocket Flame

What does Thanksgiving Mean To Our Students?

Picture this: sitting around the table, glorious food steaming hot, smelling as delicious as can be with all your favorite people. Now, what are you thinking of? Maybe you are thinking of Thanksgiving, the meal before hunting season, or the good eating right before you wake up super early to go Black Friday shopping. 

While the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621,  Thanksgiving was not an official holiday until 1863. While the meaning of Thanksgiving has always been to celebrate blessings and nourishment, there have been some other meanings to Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving originally was celebrated when the Pilgrims first harvest in the New World had ended. To our JB students it means something different to everyone. 

To about 53 percent of our students, Thanksgiving means spending lots of time with family.  

“My family cooks all year round, I only hunt occasionally, shopping at this time of year is nuts, and family is just what thanksgiving is for,” said Faith Mitchell (12). 

Spending time with family is very important to our students at JB. 

“ I love spending time with family. It’s a great time to catch up with family you haven’t seen or talked to for a while. It is also a great time to make jokes and get good laughs in with the family,” stated Adrianna Duboraw (12).

 Thanksgiving isn’t just about being thankful for the things you have in life, it’s about the people who you are surrounded by that make life great for you. 

Like the rest of America, our students love to eat, therefore some feel that the food at Thanksgiving is most prominent.

“The amazing food (means the most) because it’s the one day of the year where you can eat and eat and not be judged,” said Alyssa Sensinger (11 ).

Part of Thanksgiving is the food and eating with people you love but being able to eat and not be self-conscious because this holiday only comes once a year. On Thanksgiving the average American consumes 4,500 calories.

While not everyone is a fan of hunting season, some of our students say Thanksgiving means the start of hunting season and all that hunting entails.

 “During hunting season, I spend a lot of time with my immediate family and enjoy being out in nature seeing God’s beautiful creation,” Madalyn Akers (11) said.

Hunting isn’t just about shooting a deer it’s about the bonds that are made between the people who hunt together. 

“I really love hunting, the time with my pap and the jokes we make are memories I’ll cherish forever, but it’s also a chance to get some deer meat,” Rachel Martin (12) said. 

Hunting, spending time with family, and eating are very popular but another favorite around Thanksgiving is shopping. In preparation for Christmas we have Black Friday that most everyone knows occurs on the day after Thanksgiving. 

To Jenna Yeager (9), shopping is most important around Thanksgiving. She said, “Being a teenager and not having a job makes it hard getting Christmas gifts for people without any deals. I love Black Friday because I can get gifts for my family without going bankrupt.” 

One thing that every meaning of Thanksgiving has in common is spending time with other people. Whether it be family or friends, no matter what you are doing you are hardly ever doing it alone. “You can’t find enjoyment in any meaning of Thanksgiving unless you are surrounded by people you love.” Benjamin Glessner (11) said. 

Giving Thanks Around the Globe

Almost everyone in America has heard of Thanksgiving day, and can often times remember their favorite meals, desserts, and pastimes on this day when we show our gratitude. What of other countries, though? How do they give thanks to those they hold dear? The answer isn’t as far from American Thanksgiving, but with a bit of every culture’s own twist.


Every different culture gives thanks, usually to coincide a great harvest. Though they always have large celebrations that bring the family together and warm the hearts of many on their special day.


1. Erntedankfest (Germany, Switzerland, Austria):

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Erntedankfest, translating to “Harvest Thanksgiving Festival,” is a day to gives thanks for a plentiful harvest and to spend time with family. Though, it lacks an official date and time, it is commonly celebrated on the first Sunday in October or the first Sunday after Michaelmas. Another time common time of celebration is in November as to co-celebrate the Wine Harvest.


There are also many ways that one can celebrate the day including dancing, singing, and, of course, food. Along with the popular practice of coronating a “Harvest Queen,” called the Erntekönigin.

The dinner that is eaten is very similar to an American Thanksgiving feast, with turkey, goose and may of the crops from the harvest. The food is eaten by family and friends alike and what is left over is given to needy families.


The evening that follows is another festival, known as Laternenumzug where towns will light fireworks, torches, and lanterns throughout the night to commemorate the great harvest, and hope for another next year.

2. The Moon Festival (China):

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Starting in the Zhou Dynasty, the custom originated from worshipping the moon goddess by offering her food and crops during Mid-Autumn.


During the Tang Dynasty, the custom became very popular among high-class merchants and political officials. Often times they would throw parties and drink to commemorate the harvest.


In the Yuan Dynasty, the Moon festival was created on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Eating mooncakes was a common way to celebrate the holiday, it also became a secret messaging system for the Chinese rebel alliances planning to overthrow the Mongols.


In both the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the festival reached its peak popularity and the day was celebrated with fireworks, burning of pagodas, and dragons dances.


Lantern making is a very popular means of celebration among children. The lanterns are hung in parks and on roofs as well as floated down rivers, and some, called Kongming Lanterns, are floated into the sky after children write their wishes in them.


3. The Harvest Festival (UK):

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Pre-dating Christianity, the harvest festival is one holiday that has been around for some time. The name is derived the middle English term “Haerfest” which means Autumn.


There are many different parts to the celebration of this holiday, starting with Lammas day, a day where a loaf of bread is brought to church mass to celebrate the reaping of the crops.


On Sept. 9, Saint Michael’s Mass is celebrated with a huge feast of harvest crops like corn, squash, and pumpkins and roast geese. Later there are fairs and market stalls as well as church decorating and corn doll making. The corn dolls represent a good harvest and the goddess of grain they are also a sacrifice to the hare.


4. Têt Trung Thu (Vietnam):

Information Provided By:


Têt Trung Thu is a holiday that is very similar to the Chinese Moon Festival, even falling on the same day. The name translates to “the Mid-Autumn Festival” and its main focus, despite the name, is the youth. The original purpose of the holiday was so that parents could catch up on the lives of their children.


Banh Trung Thu, translated to “mooncakes”, are very similar to the Chinese mooncake. Although the mooncakes are a part of the celebration (and are often thrown away like Christmas fruitcake), the main attraction of the holiday is Lion Dancing.


Lion Dancing is a practice in which many children dress up in paper and cast lions and dance from door to door, bringing good luck to those who will accept their dances. In return, the children receive good luck money and thank the provider before continuing on.


In the end, at nightfall, lanterns fill the waters remembering loved ones last and being thankful for the memories of them.


With many countries come the many ways to appreciate life, though they’re all quite different, they all give thanks to family, friends, and years to come. Something that isn’t as far off as it would seem from American Thanksgiving.


Customs of Thanksgiving


Outside, the leaves have fallen: their colors have changed to red, yellow, and orange. The air has a cool brisk feeling and as you go inside the house, the aroma of the food occupies the dining room as mom and dad, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, and cousins converge at the dinner table. The diversity of food loads the table to the point where there is no table left to be seen. It is that time of the year where family comes together and spends quality time with one another, the holiday where people give thanks for what they have.


According to, the first Thanksgiving came about when “passengers from Plymouth, England boarded on a ship called, the Mayflower.” The article stated that they wanted to “travel to the new world where there would be new opportunities.” Once the settlers landed, they made alliances with other tribes that were also on the land. The alliances would “eventually help them with their crops.” Finally, in November, they celebrated their “successful feast with their alliances” that would later be called the First Thanksgiving.


There are quite a number of things families do on Thanksgiving. Families either stay at home and have people over, go to houses of friends and family, or even travel to different cities, states, or to different countries. The main idea is that families try to get together and spend time with each other.


Thanksgiving is now a tradition that Americans follow. It has been around for over 400 years. Now families have their own traditions that they follow during the holidays. Mr. Troy Hillwig (Faculty) Emily Horst (9) and Janiece Grove (12) explain their experiences during Thanksgiving.


Normally, we get together with my parents and siblings for a feast on Thanksgiving Day,” Mr. Troy Hillwig (Faculty) explains. “My family also likes to get together with our best friends over the break and share stories. Although, for the first time ever, this year we are spending Thanksgiving Day in the Outer Banks!”


We usually toss the old pigskin around,” Hilwig said. “We also might throw in a game or two of Uno for money. Finally, there is usually a bit of football played and watched. ”


“We would all sit downstairs and watch Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, with my grandma, while my parents would start making dinner,” Horst explains.


“We would also help with some of the dinner such as peeling potatoes and ripping the bread for stuffing,” said Emily Horst (9). “After we finished eating we would help clean up and play card games. Some games that we play would be Phase 10, Dominoes, Uno and Jenga.”


“My family goes to my aunt’s house for the Thanksgiving meal at lunchtime,” Janiece Grove (12) said. “We always turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while we are getting ready. After the meal we always look at Black Friday deals, tell hunting stories, and the boys play football.”


Everyone has that specific food that they like to eat during Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, rolls, pickled eggs and beets, and pies for dessert. There are numerous options to choose from.

“My favorite is the mashed potatoes because my dad makes the best ever! There is no other mashed potatoes that tastes that good,” Horst said.  


“I love the stuffing. It is my grandmother’s recipe and she always makes it perfectly!” Grove said.


“I have to go with stuffing,” Hillwig said.


“There are two types of stuffing: wet and dry. The one thing about stuffing is that it has to have gravy on it. Every time I had stuffing, it was perfect every time,” said Hillwig.


There are different rationales on why people celebrate Thanksgiving: to become closer with family or finally have a chance to relax and enjoy all of the things treasured in life.


“Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and be thankful for what we have been given,” Grove said.  For my family and I, celebrating Thanksgiving is our way of really acknowledging all that the Lord has provided for us.”


“I am most thankful for love, from God, family, church family, friends, because life is meaningless without love.” said Grove.


“Thanksgiving is a time to spend with your family, getting to bond with them, and giving thanks to things that we would usually overlook. The environment is very fun, warming and everyone just gets along so well. It’s one of my favorite times of the year where my family is all together and we all get to celebrate together,” Horst explains.


I think we celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s a time of thanks and for everything to be at peace. I am thankful for my family, pets, teachers, friends. Pretty much everyone that I look up to. ”

— Emily Horst


           “First, it is a tradition. I can remember travelling to Western Pennsylvania as a child and celebrating Thanksgiving,” Hillwig said. “Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for the all the wonderful things we have; frankly a lot of places around the world do not have the same opportunities and amenities as we do.”


“I feel so thankful and blessed to have a beautiful wife and two amazing children.  I am thankful for my wife and kids and our health. I am not uber thankful for the dog, Crosby.  However, I am not going to hold a grudge. And I will do my best to make him a part of the family.”


November 23 is one day where families and friends come closer together to share their love and gratitude. Even though people have different activities they do on Thanksgiving, in the end, they all have similar reasons why they celebrate Thanksgiving.

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