America today celebrates a national holiday – one with its origins rooted firmly in its immigrant history.
The fourth Thursday in November is celebrated every year in the US as Thanksgiving Day – a day when families across the country unite to enjoy a meal which commonly consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry, sweet corn, seasonal vegetables and pumpkin pie for dessert.
Meanwhile, parades are held in cities throughout the nation – with the most famous being the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City – while American football also plays an important part in the celebrations. Three NFL matches are traditionally played on the day every year (and televised) while the regular college football season draws to a close with matches often being played between historical and local rivals.
The origins to this day can be traced back to 1621, shortly after the first English settlers arrived and set up their first colony in the country. The Pilgrims who set up the Plymouth Colony (also known as New Plymouth) in what is today in Massachusetts, would almost certainly have died through starvation were it not for the local Wampanoag tribe who shared food with the settlers when it became clear the colonists had not brought sufficient supplies with them.
The Wampanoag people also taught the Pilgrims many lessons in the best way to farm the land around them and catch the animals that lived in the area. After a hugely successful growing season, the settlers held a harvest feast for themselves and some of the people to celebrate their success and give thanks to the natives who had looked after them.
Over the years that followed further meals were held to celebrate this day, and eventually modern-day Thanksgiving Day was formed.
Thanksgiving Day became an official national holiday during the Civil War in 1863, when then President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on Thursday 26th November – the fourth Thursday of the month.
In addition to being one of the most celebrated holidays in the US, Thanksgiving Day is also seen as the start of Christmas, with the build up to the festive season really getting going following Thanksgiving.
We at Emigrate2 would like to wish all our American readers a happy Thanksgiving Day!