Thanksgiving is indigenously an American festival, predominantly celebrated in the U.S. and Canada. It falls on the second of all Mondays in the month of October in Canada; on the other hand, the fourth Thursday of November is celebrated in the United States. Due to the affinity of masses to this festival, Thanksgiving is celebrated till the weekend in the States.
Origin of Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving evolved into a North American festival gradually with contributions from the cultures and traditions of European settlers and the Native Americans. People in Europe used to celebrate the advent of the harvest-season and the end of it. They used to celebrate with food and drinks to hope for a better harvest season and also as a mark of gratitude for a rewarding one. The harvests had the most telling effect on the lives of people and they made it a point to be humble and thankful for Mother Nature’s gifts in plenty. The Europeans brought their traditions along with them and it amassed with the regional traditions that were followed by Native Americans. The festival is celebrated in different ways in the U.S. and Canada.
The history of Thanksgiving in the United States
The traditions of thanksgiving began in the earlier 17th century in America; Plymouth which is situated in Massachusetts today had settlers celebrating their harvests and a successful voyage. The harvesting was celebrated in different parts of the U.S. in different regions by the settlers from different parts of Europe. Plymouth had a huge celebration and feast following a significant harvest season, this feast really helped to propagate the Thanksgiving celebrations in the U.S. The Native Americans helped the Europeans gather food for the feasts in Plymouth; the Native Americans celebrated the harvest festival in their own unique way, traces of which can be still found in today’s celebrations. Thanksgiving became an annual affair only after the late 17th century.
According to Historians, the first Thanksgiving happened in Florida and in the late 16th Century, these celebrations were held by the Spanish settlers and it is the first recorded thanksgiving celebration. Some historians have contrary beliefs as they claim that the first thanksgiving celebrations were held in Virginia and not in Plymouth. Abraham Lincoln declared National Thanksgiving day while serving his presidential term, since then Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a major festival every year. Friends and family gather for celebrations and they eat and drink the night away in each other’s company.
The Thanksgiving Feast
Thanksgiving is an important festival in people’s eyes and they make it a point to be back at home for the celebrations the distance notwithstanding. People travel large distances to be with their friends and family, it has the busiest air and road traffic as everyone is rushing home to be a part of the merry making. The thanksgiving traditions differ from family to family; people have unique ways of celebrating the Thanksgiving Day. Traditionally, the Thanksgiving meal is elaborately cooked with a menu that reflects plentitude of delicacies. Turkey is the most important part of the menu, there are mashed potatoes and then there are corn-breads among other items that include stuffing and gravy. Sweet potato is a quintessential thanksgiving element and is cooked by lot of families.
The Thanksgiving meal is sumptuous and fulfilling and desert is an important part of the meal, pies are the most commonly made deserts and some pies even have fillings of meat. The most famous pies are made of pumpkin and apple, among other things pecan and sweet potato are also used as fillings for the pies. The stuffed turkey followed by deserts is a common Thanksgiving phenomenon. Thanksgiving is also celebrated by vegetarians with equal vigor with the absence of turkey, the symbolic thanksgiving element. Vegans eat tofu and other vegetables and have equally grand affairs. They also have a wide ensemble of salads and they also have huge arrangements of fruits and other exquisite vegetables.
The wishbone is a part of the anatomical structure of chicken and turkey, the myth has it, that after the meal two of the family members or friends hold the opposite ends of the bone and pull it towards each other, they make a wish before they start pulling and whoever ends with a larger part of the bone has his/her wish granted. Lot of people still follow this silly custom of pulling wishbones as it can really act as a mode of recreation for grown-ups and kids alike. In the United States, the President is given a turkey every year and he declares that the turkey be set free along with others and made to live the rest of their life in a farm. This custom is known as the Turkey Pardon and is very famous.
The Significance Of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as a festival of harvest and many people make it a point to share the happiness by sharing their resources with the underprivileged; they try to spread the happiness by giving clothes and food. There are people who really go out of their way to get the happiness through to the ones who can’t afford the basic meals on Thanksgiving Day. It is really important for people to realize the importance of sharing as the world needs peace, and poverty is the biggest hindrance to the accomplishment of world peace. There are a lot of charity events that go on throughout the week; they help raise funds for Thanksgiving dinner for the poor and also set them up with some means of sustenance and get them out of the vicious cycle.
Thanksgiving has been propagated through the various media forms as a significant cultural tradition of the U.S., these media forms also create huge amount of awareness about the need for various charitable causes, lot of artists from various backgrounds unite to generate funds for charity for noble purposes. The celebrations cannot be restricted to the boundaries of the home of a family; we are part of One Cosmic-Union and the joy and happiness need to be shared with our brethren in the world, not a single human being excluded.