Britannia English School Ferrol

Thanksgiving: A Celebration of Gratitude, History, and Time-Honored Traditions

Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition celebrated by millions of people around the world, particularly in the United States and Canada. This special day is dedicated to express gratitude for the blessings of the past year and sharing a festive meal with loved ones. In this article, we will delve into the history of Thanksgiving and explore the cherished traditions that have become synonymous with this heartwarming holiday.

The Origin of Thanksgiving:

The roots of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early 17th century when a group of English Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom, set sail aboard the Mayflower. After a perilous journey, they landed at Plymouth Rock in present-day Massachusetts in 1620. Faced with harsh winter and unfamiliar surroundings, nearly half of the Pilgrims perished due to disease and malnutrition.

In the spring of 1621, the remaining Pilgrims forged a crucial alliance with the Native Americans Wampanoag people, who taught them essential agricultural techniques and provided guidance on surviving in the new land. The successful harvest followed a three-day feast, which is often regarded as the first Thanksgiving in November 1621.

Thanksgiving Becomes a National Holiday:

While sporadic days of thanksgiving were observed in various American colonies and states, it wasn’t until the 19th century that Thanksgiving became an official national holiday. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday, setting the date as the final Thursday in November. In 1941, Congress officially established Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November, where it remains today.

Time-Honored Traditions:

  1. The Thanksgiving Feast: The centerpiece of Thanksgiving celebrations is undoubtedly the grand feast. Families and friends gather to share a bountiful meal featuring a roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. The meal symbolizes abundance and the harvest season.
  2. Turkey Pardon: A quirky tradition that has gained popularity in recent years is the presidential turkey pardon. Each year, the President of the United States ceremoniously pardons a turkey, sparing it from becoming part of the Thanksgiving feast. The pardoned turkey often goes on to live out its days on a farm.
  3. Parades and Football: Thanksgiving Day parades, such as the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, have become a staple of the holiday. Additionally, many families gather around the television to watch football games, creating a sense of camaraderie and shared entertainment.
  4. Gratitude and Reflection: Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and expressing gratitude. Many families engage in the tradition of going around the table and sharing what they are thankful for. This practice fosters a sense of appreciation for the positive aspects of life.
  5. Black Friday Shopping: While not directly related to the spirit of gratitude, the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season with massive sales and discounts. Many people make it a tradition to kick off their holiday shopping on this day.

Thanksgiving is a celebration deeply rooted in history, gratitude, and the coming together of diverse communities. As families and friends gather around tables laden with delicious food, they continue to uphold and create new traditions that make this holiday a cherished and enduring part of the cultural tapestry. Beyond the feasts and festivities, Thanksgiving serves as a poignant reminder to appreciate the blessings in our lives and to express gratitude for the connections that make it all worthwhile.