Let’s face it, Americans don’t always get things right. Their health care system is a mess and they call football soccer, but when it comes to giving thanks each year for what they have, we could learn a thing or two. Here we take a closer look at the holiday, Thanksgiving, and why people across the globe should take the opportunity to celebrate this wonderful day of giving thanks.
What Is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in the US each year on the fourth Thursday of November. As the name suggests, it is a holiday to literally give thanks for what one has, including family and friends.
Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October and is additionally observed by Liberia, Grenada, Puerto Rico, and Norfolk Island.
How Did It Start?
The first documented Thanksgiving in the US was in 1621 at Plymouth in what is now present-day Massachusetts. It was started by the Pilgrims and Puritans who came from England in order to celebrate their plentiful harvest and to give thanks for their new land.
President George Washington eventually proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the US with the first official Thanksgiving documented on November 26th, 1789. Washington described it “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.
What Does the Celebration Entail?
Americans tend to get a long weekend off with many schools off for the entire week. Because the holiday is family-focused, the extra time off allows people sufficient time to travel in order to be with their family and friends.
The holiday in the US typically consists of a large feast, including a traditional turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes & gravy, yams (also known as sweet potatoes) with toasted marshmallows on top, and, of course, a very traditional pumpkin pie. The menu varies across the states (as does the lingo) with many southern states adding things like cornbread or crab cakes to mix.
The emphasis of the holiday is certainly on giving thanks with many American families choosing to go around the table saying one thing that they are thankful for before enjoying their meal. Many schools also encourage students to give thanks by assigning homework, which involves journal entries or lists of what the students are thankful for.
What Else Happens on Thanksgiving?
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City is one of the most popular and well-known events on Thanksgiving day. The 3-hour long parade was first started in 1924 and is televised nationally throughout the US. It is, of course, sponsored by the famous American department store, Macy’s. The parade involves colourful floats, giant balloons, followed by Santa Claus himself. You can check out 2014’s parade here.
Other popular events include an array of American football games on television. Because what better way to digest a giant Thanksgiving dinner than to sit on the couch and watch sports? Or better yet, some Americans will play a mini game outside with family and friends to burn off the calories.
Why We Should All Celebrate
At Christmas we get presents, Halloween we get candy, so with all the hype focused on material things, Thanksgiving is a great day to meditate on things you already have and are thankful for, such as good family and friends. And, if you’ve never tried pumpkin pie – you’re definitely in for a treat.
Thanksgiving Day Videos
Below are some classic Thanksgiving Day videos, which are worth a watch should you ever need to get in the Thanksgiving-Day-mood!
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
- Present Obama Pardons A Turkey (2014)
- Friends: The Thanksgiving Football Game For The Geller Cup
- SchoolHouse Rock – No More Kings
Thanksgiving Day Recipes
Fancy giving Thanksgiving a go this year? The best way to start is to make a list of all the things you’re thankful in life, invite your friends ‘round for dinner and research some classic Thanksgiving Day recipes. Check out some of the delicious traditional holiday recipes from a team of American chef all-stars below: