Thanksgiving in America

Thanksgiving in America: A newcomer’s guide

Despite the fact that many American businesses begin stocking their shelves with Christmas decorations well before Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is traditionally the occasion that marks the beginning of the holiday season in the United States. A celebration of food, family, and giving thanks for what we are thankful for sets the tone for the weeks to follow as we look forward to the holiday season.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in a very American way, as you can see in the video below. Today, it is an amalgam of ancient and contemporary traditions that are mostly secular in nature. Participants do not need to be members of a certain faith, organization, or background in order to fully participate in the celebrations. The only criterion is that you have a meal with your family and friends. Then it’s up to you to include your cultural customs and family cuisine into the celebration to make it uniquely yours.

The history of Thanksgiving’s controversy

It is one of the difficulties surrounding this yearly celebration of food because the location and date of the first Thanksgiving are not known. Some historians think that the first meeting to express gratitude took place in 1565, when Spanish explorer Pedro MenĂ©ndez de AvilĂ© landed in St. Augustine, Florida, and established a settlement there. According to the documentation, the explorer asked local Timucua tribal members to join him in a feast to celebrate the crew’s safe landing onshore. The arrival of British settlers in Virginia in 1619, according to certain historical accounts, prompted them to proclaim that day as “a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God,” thus predating the more well-known Thanksgiving origin myth.

However, despite the fact that there were two earlier occurrences of Thanksgiving celebrations, the more popularly accepted opinion is that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. 90 members of the nearby Wampanoag tribe and 50 early English colonists came together to celebrate the settlement’s first successful harvest by sharing a peaceful feast of birds, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, squash, and turkey. According to legend, the local tribe was allowed to participate in the dinner in recognition of their important role in teaching the immigrants how to harvest the land, which was critical to their survival in this new nation at the time.

Some modern-day Native Americans oppose how the history of Thanksgiving is shown because they believe it is an incorrect picture of the connection between the early colonists and the Wampanoag people, who suffered terribly in the years that followed the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Despite Thanksgiving’s contentious origins, the cultural myth has some resemblance to the modern-day immigrant experience in a number of ways. It was in quest of a better life for themselves and their families that the early settlers moved to the United States. A key theme of Thanksgiving is the celebration of many cultures through a shared experience of food and fellowship, as well as the giving gratitude for a new life, new possibilities, and new development. Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 22nd. Because of this, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Federal Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941, which is observed every year since.

Customs associated with Thanksgiving in America

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States has lost much of its religious significance over the years and has instead become a time to gather with friends and family to share a feast. While no two families celebrate Thanksgiving in precisely the same manner, there are several customs that can be found in many American homes that are worth mentioning.


On Thanksgiving Day, turkey is likely to be the most prevalent item on the Thanksgiving dinner tables of American households. According to the National Turkey Federation, around 46 million turkeys are consumed on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly 95 percent of those questioned consume turkey on this day of the year.

The roots of serving turkey at Thanksgiving are uncertain since there is no historical evidence that turkey was served as the primary meal during the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, it has grown in importance as a component of the American Thanksgiving holiday celebration. There are no laws when it comes to how one should eat a Thanksgiving turkey. Whether you fry it, bake it, or roast it with herbs and spices from your native country, there are no regulations.


According to a study conducted by YouGov America, 75% of those who responded said they would serve stuffing at their Thanksgiving meal. Wikipedia defines stuffing as “a delectable edible concoction, commonly comprised of herbs and a starch such as bread, that is used to fill a cavity in preparation of another culinary item.” In terms of cooking technique, stuffing aids in the retention of moisture, while the combination itself works to enhance and absorb tastes throughout the preparation process.

Stuffing predates the first Thanksgiving by several thousand years, and it is believed to have originated in China. Apicius de re Coquinaria, one of the earliest textbooks still in existence, had recipes for stuffed chicken, rabbit, hog, and other meats, as well as other dishes. This classic Thanksgiving staple may be made in a variety of ways, and depending on where you live in the United States, it may even be referred to as “dressing.”


According to the poll, 64 percent of Americans will serve cranberry sauce as a side dish during Thanksgiving. Cranberry sauce, which is both sweet and tangy, brings out the rich, juicy taste of the turkey. “Cranberries officially became part of the national Thanksgiving custom in 1864, when General Ulysses S. Grant ordered cranberries to be fed to troops as part of their holiday feast,” according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, a newspaper published during the Civil War period.

Explicitly stating what you are grateful for

As is traditional during Thanksgiving, many families will express their gratitude for what they have this year around their dinner table, continuing the custom of “giving thanks” at the holiday meal.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Parades have also grown in popularity as a feature of the Thanksgiving Day festivities in cities and towns all around the United States of America. The Macy’s department store in New York City hosts the most well-known Thanksgiving parade in the world. The parade, which has taken place yearly since 1924 and draws between 2 and 3 million people along its 2.5-mile route, as well as a large television audience, has become an institution.


Thanksgiving Day football in the National Football League (NFL) debuted in 1934 with a game between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, which is still held to this day. Two weeks before the game, tickets for the event were completely sold out, establishing a tradition of NFL football games on Thanksgiving Day for the foreseeable future.

Black Friday

The Friday following Thanksgiving, sometimes known as “Black Friday,” is the first official day of the Christmas shopping season and marks the beginning of the holiday season. The origin of the word “Thanksgiving” is a bit of a mystery, but it is an important aspect of the holiday celebration. Retail businesses will offer longer hours, discounts, and special promotions on this day, prompting some buyers to queue up outside the store before it even opens in order to take advantage of the bargains offered.

Turkey Pardon

One of the more unusual Thanksgiving customs is the pardoning of a live turkey by the President of the United States. The President of the United States will “pardon” a turkey during a White House ceremony, allowing it to avoid being eaten as the main dish for Thanksgiving dinner. The pardoned turkey will subsequently be relocated to a farm or petting zoo in the surrounding area.

Creating your own Thanksgiving

Though old and new Americans may observe Thanksgiving at various times and in a variety of ways, they all agree that the core of the holiday is a meal with family and friends, and how you go about doing it is completely up to you. Many households include cherished family recipes that have been handed down through generations. So if your Thanksgiving table includes your grandmother’s much-loved recipe for lumpia or dumplings, and whether your turkey is coated in soy sauce or seasoned with a curry rub, the decision is entirely up to you and your family.

The meals that people prepare and the customs that they uphold are ways that people all across the globe respect and remember their ancestors. Thanksgiving is the ideal American holiday for blending traditional and modern traditions. If you’re not hosting your own Thanksgiving dinner but have been asked to join new American friends, consider bringing a dish from your home country as a gesture of thanks. A cuisine that has special importance to you may be one of the most meaningful ways to participate in a holiday that is centered on expressing gratitude for making it safely to an unfamiliar area and for having the opportunity to begin a new life.


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