Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day

It is one of the best-known parties in the US (called ‘Thanksgiving Day’), but it has European roots. It is celebrated in November and its relationship connects with the crops of the last part of the year.

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November, on Thanksgiving Day. Although accustomed to hearing this day in American films and series, the reality is that in the rest of the world it is a little known celebration.

What is Thanksgiving?

It is a brutal dinner with the family or with good friends, with an intimate and endearing character that includes good food and some television program, be it sports or a long movie. There are usually no gifts, but lots of food and lots of fun.

Like other holidays, Thanksgiving has a Celtic origin. In the beginning, it was a party to celebrate the good harvests, at the end of September or the beginning of October, which evolved in the middle of Europe and became a celebration with a certain religious tint.

In Germany and Austria, it is called Erntedankfest. This was the seed of the current festival, for which the pilgrims, instead of giving thanks for their crops, gave thanks for having managed to survive and, in passing, they changed the date.

When is Thanksgiving celebrated?

This day is not only commemorated in the US. For example, Canada does too, but on the second Monday of October, closer to its original date. Because the fact is that this party, like so many, has Celtic origins. And its expansion and contagion have been immense throughout the world: in Norfolk Island (Australia) it is celebrated on the last Wednesday of November and was imported by the WWII military. In Liberia, it is the first Thursday of November.

For their part, the Japanese also commemorate their particular Labor Thanksgiving Day to thank their crops, on November 23. But without a doubt, the most famous is the American one, the party in which the good harvests were celebrated and for that reason, the table was full of dishes cooked with vegetables and grains. For this reason, there were so many desserts and so much drink. The equivalent in Spain would be the harvest or, a little later, the killing.

Why is Thanksgiving celebrated in the US?

Historians point out that the first time Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the British colonies, which would later be the United States, took place in the fall of 1621, in the town of Plymouth, what is now Massachusetts.

It was a 3-day banquet (thus, in a medieval wedding plan) in which 53 English and 90 indigenous settlers from the Wampanoag tribe shared food.

The settlers had arrived in the famous Mayflower “Virginia road” to join another settlement, but the truth is that they tried to form their own colony and got lost a little. There were 102 Englishmen seeking religious freedom in the New World.

The fact is that the newcomers had no idea how to survive in their new home and, after seeing half their population die during the winter, an indigenous man with a terrifying story behind him decided to help them.

This native was Squanto, an Indian who had been sold as a slave and had managed to escape and return to his homeland, except that he now spoke English. The indigenous took pity on the futility of foreigners and taught them the basics of survival by taking advantage of spring.

And when the harvest was picked up, the English decided to share with their hosts what they had collected and the fact that they could survive thanks to their help. In this way, a banquet was held with deer, turkey, goose, swan, duck, fish, and seafood, as well as fruits and vegetables, nothing to do with what is eaten today.

What do you eat on Thanksgiving?

Today the turkey has been included in the menu, perhaps because of how cheap it is, or what it was, and because with it, you could feed an entire family. It is an animal that, on the other hand, has no grace.

Nobody knows how difficult it is to cook a turkey and that it is not dry until it tries. Maybe that’s why you put the stuffing, so that something is good, accompanied by wild rice, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, vegetable pastry, brandy apples, corn, blueberries, and other foods. Also famous is the “forgiveness of the turkey” that every year he performs as president of the United States.

In addition, dinner is accompanied by two dessert cakes:

  • Apple pie
  • Chocolate and nut pie.

Well, it all depends on who cooks and the desire to do so. And, of course, the best company, a fun conversation and a good round of spirits. That being the case, even having had the worst of the crops, who might not be willing to say thank you. To thank and repeat every year.

Once the Thanksgiving weekend is over, the starting shot is given for the preparation of Christmas, at least traditionally, because today it seems that the department stores celebrate Thanksgiving in August.

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Teodora Torrendo is an investigative journalist and is a correspondent for European Union. She is based in Zurich in Switzerland and her field of work include covering human rights violations which take place in the various countries in and outside Europe. She also reports about the political situation in European Union. She has worked with some reputed companies in Europe and is currently contributing to USA News as a freelance journalist. As someone who has a Masters’ degree in Human Rights she also delivers lectures on Intercultural Management to students of Human Rights. She is also an authority on the Arab world politics and their diversity.

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