One of the best parts about studying English in the USA is experiencing local holiday traditions—and Thanksgiving, a North American holiday centered around food, family and being thankful, may just become your favorite!
The Tradition of Thanksgiving
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, and was a three-day festival of hunting, eating and entertainment. It commemorated the first successful harvest of the Plymouth pilgrims (English settlers escaping religious persecution), made possible through the help of the Wampanoag tribe, who taught the pilgrims how to cultivate crops, fish and hunt.
In 1789, American President George Washington made Thanksgiving a holiday, but it didn’t become a permanent national holiday until a proclamation made by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in part to help unite the country during the Civil War.
Turkey and Treats
Thanksgiving today has become primarily about family gatherings and food. The most traditional and popular holiday fare is roast turkey, with nearly 90% of Americans eating the bird on this day. Turkey is usually served with mashed potatoes, stuffing (breading and vegetables, often used to fill and flavor the turkey as it cooks), sweet potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce—followed by a delicious serving of pumpkin pie for dessert! Try all these traditional favorites when you study English in the USA.
“Turkey Day” Activities
With all the eating involved on Thanksgiving, some people participate in outdoor activities as a healthy way to prepare for the meal, including playing American football or running in races called “Turkey Trots.” Indoors, there is plenty to watch on television while the turkey cooks, like football games and the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, featuring floats and giant balloon characters.
Many people like to volunteer to help those less fortunate on this day of gratitude, and it’s a common tradition for families to list what they’re thankful for before the feast. Wherever you are studying English in the USA, be sure to gather with friends and family to celebrate this uniquely North American holiday!