November 24th, 2021
Why is Thanksgiving an important holiday?
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated annually as a national holiday in the North American continent on the fourth Thursday of November. Many Americans will soon start preparing their Thanksgiving menus for one of the most anticipated holidays in the US calendar.
Apart from the food, arguably the main component of the day, the holiday is a beloved time of year when Americans come together to celebrate what they are thankful for – although this year will likely see much smaller gathering and celebrations due to coronavirus restrictions. In America, Thanksgiving is a cultural holiday that symbolizes peace, thankfulness, and the beginning of the holiday season. But lets not forget how this holiday BECAME a holiday;
How did Thanksgiving become an official holiday?
By 1789, the “thanksgiving” tradition was still not a holiday. Bradford’s manuscript with the actual accounts of that first Thanksgiving had yet to be published, so there was little public interest in the entire thing. And while it’s reported that George Washington called for a “national thanksgiving” on the last Thursday of November that year, a declaration like that essentially amounted to a nice, thoughtful idea. Things still weren’t official.
It wasn’t until the diary made its way to the hands of magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale in the 1800s that things began to take shape. Passed down through generations and across centuries, it finally landed in her lap…and Hale was allegedly so moved after reading about the first Thanksgiving dinner that she began a serious letter-writing campaign, urging not one, not two, but five American presidents to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She never gave up, and eventually lucked out with none other than Abraham Lincoln.
As the Civil War raged on, Lincoln believed that Thanksgiving might help to unite the divided country. He declared it a national holiday in 1863 and kept Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November. Washington’s idea was finally brought to life, and it was at this time that Thanksgiving became a bona fide official holiday on the American calendar.
What do people eat on Thanksgiving?
In America, turkeys are an integral part of Thanksgiving Day, with most dinners including the bird. An estimated 46m turkeys are killed annually for the holiday, however, one turkey is pardoned each year by the president. But Americans who don’t eat meat or follow a vegan lifestyle don’t have to worry about missing out, as there are numerous vegan and vegetarian Thanksgiving options. Americans also indulge in Thanksgiving favorites such as yams topped with marshmallows, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cornbread, and pumpkin pie.
Why do Americans celebrate it and what do they do?
Although Thanksgiving may originally have had religious significance, the day has become a mostly secular holiday.
Most Americans consider the holiday a day to gather and express their thanks through food, family, and football – with multiple NFL teams playing on the holiday. During some Thanksgiving celebrations, people write down what they are thankful for and then read aloud from the pieces of paper.
In schools, children learn about the holiday by coloring in pictures of Pilgrims and turkeys and the Mayflower, the ship the colonists arrived on.
The day is also celebrated with the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The world’s largest Thanksgiving parade includes giant balloons of cartoons that float above the city sky, as well as marching bands and dancers. Following Thanksgiving, the month-long shopping for the winter holidays begins, with Black Friday kicking off the season.