Thanksgiving: A Celebration of Family and Blessings

Thanksgiving is the time of the year for families to come and gather around the table and express how thankful they are for another year.

Everyone gets excited about Thanksgiving. Children and grown-ups look forward to the holiday since it is a long weekend and a short vacation from school. More importantly, it is the day for family to come together to be thankful for all their blessings.

The First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is celebrated every fourth Thursday of November and traces its origins to the first Thanksgiving held in 1621 by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. The Pilgrims were members of the English Separatist Church and arrived aboard the Mayflower from Holland. They fled England to escape religious persecution; however, they disagreed with the Dutch way of living; and eventually they sailed for America. There were 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans gathered together to thank God for surviving the first harsh winter in New England during the first Thanksgiving Celebration. However, some historians argue that the first Thanksgiving happened when English settlers arrived on 1619 on the bank of the James River. Their captain James Woodleif knelt and led a prayer of thanksgiving to acknowledge God for granting them safe arrival. The Thanksgiving celebration in 1621 is more popularly accepted as the first Thanksgiving gathering.

The First Thanksgiving Menu

These days, Thanksgiving dinner will not be complete without turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and corn. However, one might be surprised that almost none of these appeared during the first Thanksgiving dinner.

Cranberry sauce would have been impossible to make because sugar was not available at that time. Potatoes were already discovered during this period; however, the settlers thought that they were poisonous to eat. It was also unlikely that they had pies or bread since flour was very scarce after the brutal winter. They did however eat boiled pumpkin and their corn was most likely Indian corn. The first dinner consisted of a simple menu of fish, clams, beans, nuts, plums and berries. It is not sure exactly whether the bird they ate was actually a turkey, since back them, “turkey” was the term used by pilgrims for any wild foul.

Thanksgiving Today

Modern Thanksgiving traditions involve the family gathering around the table and having dinner together. Dinner usually begins with “grace” or a Thanksgiving prayer lead by the host or the hostess.

In New York, holidaymakers look forward to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, a nationally televised festivity, which features marching bands, large cartoon character balloons, and floats that often have celebrities riding on them. It starts at Manhattan’s Upper West Side and ends at Herald Square where the flagship store of Macy’s is located. The parade traditionally ends with the arrival of the Santa Claus float, which most people consider the beginning of the Christmas season.

Another Thanksgiving tradition is Black Friday, the busiest shopping event of the year. Although it happens the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, some still consider this a part of the Thanksgiving celebration. Outside while stores are still closed, people can be seen lining up and waiting for them to open, as soon as the stores open their doors, shoppers rush inside. Black Friday is not really an official holiday like Thanksgiving Day, yet some people take the day off as part of their celebration.

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