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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving: Mumming to Masking

(Photo by Bruce Andersen)
Just when it seems as though Thanksgiving history couldn’t be any more racist (as far as the mistreatment of Native Americans is concerned), the tradition of Masking comes to light.

Megan Garber wrote an article for Wire titled “Thanksgiving Used to Look a Lot Like Halloween, Except More Racist.”  She
reports that a tradition of “Thanksgiving Masking” began in the mid-19th century, and was “an outgrowth of ‘mumming,’ the centuries-old tradition in which costumed men went from door to door, asking for food and/or money.”

As the years went on, this Masking became quite mean spirited.  Specific individuals and nations were ridiculed in a prejudicial fashion.  In 1897, the Los Angeles Times explained that some Thanksgiving masks “made fun of people of other nations,” by means of “greatly exaggerated facial peculiarities.”

In the 1920s, Thanksgiving Masking began to fall out of favor.  It was replaced by Thanksgiving Day parades, gorging and football frenzy.

Perhaps it will one day also be replaced by widespread gratitude.


Copyright November 27, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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