Besides Christmas, Thanksgiving is the most important holiday in the US. It is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Families and friends come together and share a lavish feast. However, it is not a uniquely US-American holiday, in Canada, it is celebrated every second Monday in October, and similar harvest festivals also take place in Europe. Let’s find out more about the US-American way of celebrating this very special holiday!
Why do Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?
The first celebration of Thanksgiving supposedly took place in October 1621. Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims who shared an autumn harvest feast with 90 members of the Wampanoag Nation as an act of gratitude, thanking God for the harvest and other blessings. This original fete is said to have gone on for three full days. George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, introduced Thanksgiving as a holiday on October 3, 1789. It was then President Abraham Lincoln who scheduled the last Thursday in November as the annual Thanksgiving holiday.
What is served on Thanksgiving?
One of the most typical traditions of this holiday is the Thanksgiving dinner, featuring roasted turkey stuffed with bread, onions, celery, and parsley, as the main course, as well as mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet corn, cranberry sauce, various fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie. To stuff oneself is most certainly encouraged on this occasion. By the way, if you are vegan, you should try a Tofurky roast with wild rice stuffing; it definitely sounds like a delicious cruelty-free alternative. (Maybe not so) fun fact: Americans are said to eat more food on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. Many people also volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinners to the poor who cannot afford to have a feast of their own.
What other Thanksgiving traditions are there?
Football is the second tradition during Thanksgiving celebrations, as there are always National Football League games on this special day, so while preparing the Thanksgiving meal, you can always watch a football game. Moreover, as Thanksgiving was founded as a religious observance to give thanks to God, some people also attend religious services. Worship services are offered either the day of or the weekend after or before Thanksgiving. Before dinner, many families say a mealtime prayer. Furthermore, there are parades in many cities that you can attend, one of the best-known ones being Macy’s nationally televised Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan, New York, featuring parade floats, balloons, and marching bands. Here’s the entire 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, check it out if you have two hours to spare. The parade is always wrapped up by the year’s first appearance of Santa Claus, heralding the beginning of the Christmas season.
Is Thanksgiving really that harmonious of a holiday?
Its origin being highly problematic, Thanksgiving is not considered to be a very festive occasion by everyone. The narrative of the generous colonists who invited the members of the Wampanoag Nation to their harvest festival distorts the facts and serves to embellish the relationship between the settlers and the Natives who allegedly lived in peace and ate together. One should not forget the atrocities and the appropriation of land that resulted from the establishment of the New England colonies in these early years, which is why, among others, some Native Americans reject to celebrate it and instead suggest replacing the feast with fasting and creating a National Day of Atonement. Check out this video for the view of some young Native American women on Thanksgiving and their way of celebrating it. Moreover, one should reflect on the overeating at Thanksgiving and how bad this is for our health. It is at least definitely worth planning thoroughly how much food is really needed as the feast can also produce a considerable amount of food waste. Furthermore, the common perception and portrayal of Thanksgiving as being a feast with an abundance of food shared with family and friends sets very high expectations and could put less affluent families and people who cannot spend the holiday with their loved ones in a difficult situation. Decency is key!