American Copies of Holidays and Bloody Glass Cupcakes
As children we are taught certain traditions, values and morals. These traditions, values and morals make up what we call our culture. Most cultures stem from a long line of constant traditions like the Mexican culture’s Día de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead, or Quinceañera, a girls coming of age party celebrated at fifteen years old. American culture is just a little bit different. America has such a mix of different cultures, and always has, that it is hard to call any American tradition original. Even most of our holidays, like Thanksgiving, Halloween and Independence Day, are adopted from some other culture. So, does it stand that the American copies of these traditions are less valuable than the original traditions that they come from? It could be argued that the American culture may not be original, but that does not make it any less valuable, and it does not make American’s value their culture’s originality any less. Even Russell Kirk forms the same opinion, “If American religious and ethical traditions come almost wholly from Christian and Jewish sources (combining, of course, those classical ideas which were incorporated into Christian and Western civilization), American social traditions are derived chiefly from British tradition. The polyglot nature of the twentieth-century population of the United States has not altered this fact: in one degree or another, American citizens of other racial or national origins have come to conform to the old British pattern substantially established in the seventeenth century. Only the Germans and the Irish have maintained in America, over any great period of time, a distinct body of traditions derived from non-English sources; and even with the Germans and the Irish, the established British set of social traditions has prevailed for the most part, the exceptions being of no great significance. Islands of French tradition remain in Louisiana, and of Spanish tradition in New Mexico and Texas; but these are not considerable enough to constitute any coherent opposition to the domination of British social customs and inherited opinions. American attitudes toward representative government, private property, local and private rights, political community, decent manners, family relationships, and even the physical pattern of civilized life, all are derived principally from British custom; and these constitute true traditions, accepted unquestioningly by the mass of Americans as “the American way of life,” even though they were originally imported from Britain in the seventeenth century, and have been strengthened by borrowings from British society ever since. The American frontier and American democracy modified these traditions for a time, but never modified them beyond recognition. These traditions have been woven into the American consciousness still more intricately by an education based, formerly at least, on the study of English literature.” (Kirk. P. 9. 2013). Kirk even goes so far as to say, “Everyone seems to be enthusiastic about tradition nowadays—especially the people who denounce most things established in morals and politics.” (Kirk. P. 1. 2013)
In Elementary school Americans are taught about their holidays and Thanksgiving is among the first of those holidays. The story of Thanksgiving that Americans are taught as kids is basically a boat load of lies, lies and more lies. American children are taught that when the settlers came over from England and founded the land they also found the native peoples of the land. Instead of waging war and stealing the native’s land, like what really happened, a picture gets painted of hope and brotherhood. The settlers invite the natives to a large dinner to be merry and give thanks for the things that they have, the natives come and bring corn and some other native’s food items and everyone eats and is happy. The story promotes happiness, thanks and giving, thus the title Thanksgiving.
The real story of Thanksgiving is not all pleasant or happy, and it had Indians, but not in the way that Americans were taught in school. Basically, there are two “real” accounts of Thanksgiving and they are as follows; Story one, “In early autumn of 1621, the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, organized a festival to give thanks to God for the survival of the colony and for their first harvest. The festival lasted three days. Tradition holds that the colonists invited Massasoit, the Wampanoag chief, although some versions of the story claim he came to negotiate a new land treaty. He arrived with about 90 of his people and contributed five deer to the feast. The women of the settlement supervised cooking over outdoor fires. Foods served probably included duck and turkey; a corn porridge called nasaump; and a pumpkin dish called pompion. The English and Wapanoags played games and engaged in contests of skill, and the English held a military review. The colonists held similar harvest celebrations for several years. The Wampanoags did not always participate. Good relations between the colonists and the Indians eventually ended because of disputes over land, religious beliefs, and cultural traditions. ” (Andrews. P. 5. 2013) Other colonies adopted William Bradford’s idea and changed it to suit themselves, but keeping the same basic concept of thanks and giving. Story 2, “In a letter to a friend, dated December 1621, Edward Winslow wrote: "Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time, among other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others." (The Christian Science Monitor. P. 8. 2002). Still, either way you look at it, since the settlers came up with it, Thanksgiving is technically an English holiday by origin and since the story was mauled and changed for American children, is the original Thanksgiving more valuable than the one now celebrated by most American people today? Do not think that this is so by understanding that, no matter what version of the holiday was taught, it still holds the same basic concept of thanks and giving. The Native Americans hold the tradition and value of thanks to this day, giving thanks for everything they receive every day of their lives. Therefore, all versions of Thanksgiving are equally as valuable and most American’s still celebrate the happy-go-lucky version that they were taught in Elementary school. However, what about holidays that were never about thanks or giving before?
Halloween is a holiday that is very vastly diversified within different cultures. Halloween’s origins stem from Celtic traditions in the early 800’s. “The childhood holiday of spooks and goblins has some macabre beginnings, and was influenced by many cultural traditions that seem to be shared in one time or another by a universal , if not archaic belief in ancestor worship.” (Herodotus. P. 2. 2011). It was originally called Samhain and was celebrated as the Wiccan/Pagan New Years. In the later years it was adopted by Christians and turned into All Saints Day or, as most people know it, All Hallows Eve. Basically it was a holiday of celebration for the “Holy Ones”. The people that come from the Spanish culture actually take offense when people compare the American celebration of Halloween to the Spanish Day of the Dead, as the holidays have nothing to do with each other. Now-a-days Halloween is celebrated by dressing up in costumes and running door to door and collecting candy. It still holds some of the old time traditions and symbolism from the original holiday of Samhain, but it is a completely different ball game now. Does it stand that the holiday is any less valuable after being adopted by Americans?
True Story About Halloween
Halloween is now more valuable than the holiday of earlier years past. Yes, it is no longer about religion and the dead, and has become more of a holiday for fun, but who does not need a little fun now and then? It could even be argued that the holiday has become more valuable as children have now made the holiday about giving to others. There is now a program that children can deliver their Halloween candy to, that now ships the candy overseas to soldiers on deployment (Soldiers Angels. 2009). The Candy for Soldiers program has been running since the year 2001 and has delivered tons of candy to American soldiers fighting for their country. It helps to bring a little bit of home back to the soldiers to remind them what exactly they are fighting for. This also shows that American soldiers greatly value their traditions, as they are willing to fight for them. There is also a program in most children’s hospitals that enables children to donate candy to the children who cannot go trick or treating. This program is to give children in the hospital some form of normalcy, even though they are sick, and just because they are sick, does not mean that they should miss out on candy. So far these programs or sites for these programs have only been found with American origins, so, could it not be argued that Americans not only value this Holiday but also have improved it? Now, what about a holiday, or tradition, that every culture has celebrated at some point in time?
Independence Day is not just an American based holiday and was not first solely celebrated by Americans. Almost every culture has some type of Independence Day, as almost every culture has celebrated their independence from some other culture. All of the celebrations are basically the same where giant parties are thrown and a lot of the celebrations include fireworks. Americans greatly value this holiday and basically everything is shut down so that parties can be enjoyed. Police force is greatly increased on Independence Day in America, because most Americans just cannot help celebrating a little too hard. Independence Day holds obvious value in every culture it is enjoyed in since it is pretty self-explanatory. It is the celebration of one’s independence, of being responsible for one’s own self. How could somebody not value independence, no matter what their culture is?
Basically, to end this and sum everything up, it could be argued that the American culture may not be original, but that does not make it any less valuable, and it does not make American’s value their culture’s originality any less. Americans hold great value in most of their traditions in their culture, original or not. They are a very proud type of people and their culture, even though coming from a mix of other cultures, is very valuable to them. Studies show that Americans greatly value their culture even now-a-days. One study showed that Americans did not want to spread it values to other countries, nor did they want to learn from the values of other countries. 51% of Americans, in fact, said that we should keep our own traditions and values in our own country and not adopted ideas from other countries (Friedersdorf. P. 2. 2012). With Americans wanting to keep their values, and not easily endorse values and traditions from other countries, even though all of their values stem from another culture, is that not proof enough? Americans value their culture, traditions and values whether they are originally American or not, as they always have and probably always will. It does not seem like Americans will be easily persuaded to give up on their values and traditions any time soon, so it could definitely be argued that Americans value their culture greatly.
True Story of Christmas
Andrews, M. (2013). Thanksgiving Day. In Academic World Book. Retrieved from
Angell, C. S. (2013).Independence Day. In Academic World Book. Retrieved from
Bannatyne, L. P. (2013). Halloween. In Academic World Book.Retrieved from
Elizabeth Armstrong Special to The Christian,Science Monitor. (2002, Nov 27). The first thanksgiving ; in the fall of 1621, 90 wampanoag indians and 52 english colonists gathered for a three-day harvest feast. how did americans get from that celebration to the thanksgiving 'traditions' we observe today? The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/405667164?accountid=32521
Friedersdorf, C. (2012). Confirmed: Americans Have Lost Confidence in American Values. Retrieved from
Herodotus. (2011). The Origins of Halloween Part 1: Samhain and the Celtic Time of Spirits.
Kirk, R. (2013). What Are American Traditions? Retrieved from http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.php/detail/what-are-american-traditions/
Sheidley, N. (2013).American Revolution. In Academic World Book. Retrieved from
Soldiers Angels. (2009). May No Soldier Go Unloved. Retrieved from:
The Real Thanksgiving?
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Are American copies of holidays as valuable as the original holidays they are created from?
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Bloody Broken Glass Cupcakes
- 1 Package White Cake Mix
- 3 1/4 Cups Water
- 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 3 Eggs
- 1 Can White Frosting
- 1 1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
- 3 1/2 Cup White Sugar
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- 15 Drops Red Food Coloring
- 3 Drops Blue Food Coloring
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2, 12-cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.
- Blend cake mix, 1 cup water, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer on low speed for 2 minutes. Divide cake batter between lined cupcake tins.
- Bake cupcakes in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely. Frost cupcakes with white frosting.
- Make the sugar glass. Mix 2 cups water, 1 cup corn syrup, white sugar, and cream of tartar in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer and boil sugar syrup until temperature reaches 300 degrees (hard ball), stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken as water evaporates. When sugar reaches 300 degrees, quickly pour onto a metal baking pan. Cool until completely hardened. Break into "shards" using a meat mallet.
- Make the edible blood. Mix together 1/2 cup corn syrup and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly stir in the 1/4 cup of water, adding more if necessary, until the corn syrup mixture has thickened to the consistency of blood. Stir in the red and blue food coloring.
- Stab each frosted cupcake with a few shards of broken sugar glass. Drizzle on drops of "blood" to complete the effect.
© 2015 Kelly Miller