Why do Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving?
What is Thanksgiving Day?
Thanksgiving Day is probably North America’s most popular national holiday (excluding Christmas) and maybe surprisingly to you, has some English roots. It didn’t start out as a national holiday, but a simple harvest celebration.
In 1621, members of the English Separatist Church, who had landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachussetts, celebrated their first harvest as a 3-day celebration. Since their friendly Indian neighbours had been such a help in getting them settled, they decided to invite them to the celebration. The Indians showed up with five deer as contribution to the feast of wild birds, pumpkin stew, corn pudding, berries, dried fruit, lobster and clams.
President Abraham Lincoln first declared it a national holiday in 1863. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date of the last Thursday in November as the official date and that’s the date we use today.
by Gerry Watkins
What are the Thanksgiving Traditions?
Thanksgiving Day has changed a lot since that first gathering. Even more so than Christmas, it’s a time for families to come together for feasting and catching up on what’s been going on in their lives.
Watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with its giant-sized floats and balloons helps us pass the time while intoxicating aromas float from the kitchen, where various cooks are voicing their opinions about the recipes being used.
What food is eaten at Thanksgiving?
There’s a great deal of excitement, from waiting for that turkey to come out of the oven, brown and glistening from the juices, and fragrances promising wonderful foods we can hardly wait to experience.
Cranberry sauce to go along with the turkey, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, green bean casserole, creamy mashed (Irish?) potatoes, hot rolls slathered with butter, and, of course, the mouth-watering dressing.
While many cooks purchase “stuffing” for the turkey from the supermarket, Southern cooks would never serve anything but corn bread dressing. The cornbread is baked the day before, soaked in broth, and mixed with an assortment of ingredients, the most important being celery, onions and sage. I’m salivating just writing about it.
I can’t leave out the pies. Pumpkin of course, and pecan served with cups of hot coffee to top off the sumptuous meal. Another surprise for the Brits. Our pumpkin pie was taken from an original English recipe using pumpkin and apple slices together cooked in a pie shell.
Football fans tear themselves away to find a place before the television to whoop and holler for their favourite team scheduled for this special day. End of day comes too soon, when those who won’t be spending the night at the host home pack leftovers for the trip home.
So ends another wonderful holiday spent with special family and friends, with precious memories stored away for the coming year.
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