Thanksgiving is a federal holiday that is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. Did you know that it originated as a harvest festival, just like the Mid-Autumn Festival and other similar festivals that are celebrated in many other cultures? There are multiple stories about where and when the first “real” Thanksgiving was celebrated, but it is believed that settlers and colonists from other countries who came to the United States for the first time wanted to celebrate and give thanks for their first successful harvest.
There is some controversy that surrounds American Thanksgiving, though. Some portrayals of the first Thanksgiving show that this harvest feast was a time when the European settlers were peaceful with the Native Americans who lived here long before Europeans arrived. However, European colonization of the United States was not entirely peaceful, and it is possible that the first Thanksgiving does not symbolize peace. It’s important to acknowledge both positive and negative parts of a country’s history and how history can impact our experiences today.
Nowadays, American Thanksgiving is a holiday that most people celebrate by having a large traditional meal with their family and loved ones. Traditional foods that are served reflect the foods that were native to this country, such as turkey, potatoes, squash, corn, and green beans. In fact, so many Americans eat Turkey on Thanksgiving, that sometimes the holiday is colloquially referred to as “Turkey Day”!
Another tradition that many Americans like to participate in is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been held in New York City every year since 1924. It is the world’s largest parade! Most Americans watch this on television on the morning of Thanksgiving.
Many people also like to watch American football (not soccer) on Thanksgiving. Almost every level of football, from high school to professional, will play games on this day. Football is very popular in the United States, and one theory is that football was used to encourage people who didn’t like Thanksgiving in the 1800s to enjoy it a little bit more.
Finally, the day after Thanksgiving usually marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. and you may know it by the name “Black Friday.” It’s possible that this started because many Thanksgiving Day parades include Santa, which lets people feel like Christmas is coming soon! Black Friday now extends in many countries and you can often find good deals in many stores.
Of course, everyone also has their own traditions and customs for Thanksgiving. Some families may eat a meal of foods traditional to their own culture. Some people like to celebrate “Friendsgiving” with their friends either instead of, or in addition to celebrating with their family. How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Do you have any special traditions or customs? We hope you enjoy this year’s holiday safely and happily!