Top Tips for Tuesday: What is Thanksgiving?

It’s one of those words which you hear from time to time, and probably don’t really stop to realise that you don’t understand it. Thanksgiving.

It’s just …something that Americans do, right? An American thing, like twinkies or buffalo or not laughing at country and western music. If you really stop to think about it, you probably have a vague idea that Thanksgiving is something to do with eating too much and sustaining mild injuries in the sales afterwards.

So a lot like Britain at Christmas, then.

But with Thanksgiving just two days away (in the USA – Canada’s was back in October!), we thought it would be nice to lay out the basics – what is Thanksgiving?

The story of Thanksgiving originates at the same time as the story of America herself. The first Thanksgiving is often said to have been a feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1623. Certainly, it was around this time that Thanksgiving feasts began to gain popularity in the USA, held by Pilgrims and Puritans. These feasts were heavily inspired by the harvest festivals held in the new settlers’ old homes in England.

Then, like any holiday, wacky traditions began to spring up. One popular part of Thanksgiving is when the President of America pardons a turkey – choosing one turkey to spare from the Thanksgiving table, and offer it the rest of its life as a free bird.

Thanksgiving is today celebrated by the Americans on the 4th Thursday in November. Celebrations include eating roast turkey and pumpkin pie. It’s also, much like Christmas, very much a family affair, with families who live all over the states often getting back together for the day to eat, celebrate, and watch American football.

This year, Thanksgiving is November 22nd – this Thursday. So even if you’re not American, why not take the excuse to gather some family around, stick a turkey in the oven, and maybe even try to construct a pumpkin pie. After all, it’s an excuse for good food and time with your family – and who’d say that isn’t something to be thankful for?

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