Thanksgiving Holiday And Its Celebrations
Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November, but many Americans take a day of vacation on the following Friday to make a four-day weekend, during which they may travel long distances to visit family and friends.
The holiday dates back to 1621, the year after the Puritans arrived in Massachusetts, determined to practice their religion without interference of the government. After a rough winter, in which about half of them died, they built a friendship with neighboring Indians, who taught them how to plant corn and other crops that could flourish in New England’s soil and climate.
The next fall's bountiful harvest inspired the Pilgrims to give thanks by holding a feast and celebration for their friends and community.
Thanksgiving Day in USA is the fourth Thursday in November.
Pilgrim leader, Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving this way:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling (bird hunting) so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians (came) amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the Goodness of God we are far from want.”
In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. Like many things in America’s history, individual states took action and Washington caught up eventually.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Eventually, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday
To this day, Thanksgiving dinner almost always includes some of the foods served at the first feast: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie. Before the meal begins, families or friends usually pause to give thanks for their blessings, including the joy of being united for the occasion.
Thanksgiving Food & Fun Facts
- 265 million--the preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the US in 2006.
- 13.4 pounds—the quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2004, with a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time.
- Per captia sweet potato consumption was 4.7 pounds
- At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America.
- The ballroom dance known as the Turkey Trot was named for the short, jerky steps a turkey makes.
- Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.
As Traditional As The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Origins: In the 1920's many of Macy's department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the American holiday with the type of festival they loved in Europe. The employees marched from 145 Street down to 34th Street dressed as clowns, cowboys, knights and sheiks. There were floats, professional bands and 25 live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. With an audience of over a quarter of a million people, the parade was a hit!
- Large balloons first appeared in 1927 with Felix the Cat
- In 1971, the winds were so bad, the balloons had to be cancelled. Television viewers had to settle for clips from the 1970 Parade.
- The parade gained serious fame after being prominently featured in the 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street.
- At the conclusion of some of the early parades, the balloons were released and floated away, often taking several days to come down. A reward of a $100 Macy's gift certificate was offered for anyone who found and returned any of the lost balloons
- The Eddie Cantor balloon is the only one to be modeled after a living person
Thanksgiving Holiday Eating Traditions & Origins
- The centerpiece of most Thanksgiving feasts in the United States is a large roasted turkey, appropriately giving the holiday the nickname "Turkey Day." Another tradition associated with the Thanksgiving turkey, is "making a wish" with the wishbone. The person who happens to "get the wishbone" in their slice of turkey, chooses another family member to join them in making a wish, as they each hold one piece of the breastbone. They make a wish and then break the bone. The tradition says, whoever ends up holding the larger piece of bone, will have their wish come true
- 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 unbaked pastry shell (9-inch)
Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices, and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Add evaporated milk, water, and vanilla; mix well. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake about 35 minutes longer, or until center is set.
Parent Tips Thanksgiving For Kids and Family
- Thanksgiving Craft for Kids - Handprint Thanksgiving Wreath
- You'll Need:
construction paper, felt or craft foam in autumn colors
Fashion the wreath leaves, by tracing your child's or the entire family's
hands on colored paper. Then cut several hands in a variety of colors.
If you are using paper or craft foam as opposed to felt, use markers
to write messages on the hands, listing reasons to be thankful.
Cut the wreath ring using poster board or cardboard.
Glue the felt or paper hands randomly around the wreath. Until the card board is covered. Then attach buttons, or nuts with a glue gun;
a job for a grown-up. Add your ribbon for hanging.
Thanksgiving Kid Humor
1. Asked to write a composition entitled, "What I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving," little Timothy wrote, "I am thankful that I'm not a turkey."
2. What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children?
If your father could see you now, he'd turn over in his gravy!
3. Why can't you take a turkey to church?
Because they use such FOWL language
4. What are unhappy cranberries called?
Thanksgiving Books, Music, Activities
- Thanks for Thanksgiving, by Heather Patterson
- The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving, by Ann Mcgovern and illustrated by Elroy Freem
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Charles M. Schultz
For Parents and Teachers :
- Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, Nathaniel Philbrick
- A Great and Godly Adventure, Godfrey Hodgson
Thanksgiving Traditions Stories
- Each Thanksgiving Day since 1947, the President of the United States has been presented with three turkeys by the National Turkey Federation. One live turkey is pardoned and gets to live the rest of its life on a quiet farm; the other two are dressed for the Thanksgiving meal.
For More Information and Thanksgiving Information Resources:
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is an American Tradition
Tips for a stress free Thanksgiving