Explaining “Thanksgiving” to Europeans: America’s Holiday To Give Thanks


In the United States, we have a holiday that many other countries do not celebrate. It’s known as Thanksgiving. It’s in fact my favorite holiday because it’s the time of the year where the entire family gathers together to eat some of the most delicious food. It’s a day where everyone reflects on their blessings and gives thanks for everything that the past year has offered. Thanksgiving literally is defined as the act of giving thanks.

Traditional pumpkin pie!
Traditional pumpkin pie!

The holiday is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of the month of November. Families spend the morning cooking traditional foods and then gather in the evening for a family dinner. A typical thanksgiving meal consists of: a perfect roasted turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, green bean casserole, classic stuffing, cranberry sauce, cornbread, roasted seasonal vegetables, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (my absolute favorite!). Of course, every family also adds their own famous specialties to the menu.

In fall 1621 Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered to celebrate their first bountiful harvest a.k.a “The First Thanksgiving

During the day besides all of the dinner prepping, there’s usually Thanksgiving Day Football games going on in the parks and of course everyone is watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The parade takes place in Manhattan, New York and is known for its giant balloons that fill the sky line and also feature incredible entertainment.

Another event that takes place “the day after” Thanksgiving is Black Friday. It actually has now begun to sort of interrupt the holiday in the sense that stores are beginning to open that same night of Thanksgiving instead of early Friday morning. Black Friday is absolute craziness. It’s the time of year when outrageous sales are announced, shoppers wait in endless lines to go into hectic stores and begin their Christmas shopping. It’s honestly pretty absurd (personally I much rather wait for Cyber Monday).

So where did the holiday Thanksgiving even come from? There are a few different stories on how the holiday originated so let me share the one that I learned back in elementary school. In the year 1621 the Pilgrims (English settlers) settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts which was originally home to the Native Americans. Together they created a peace treaty to ensure mutual protection if enemies were to attack. When fall came around the Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered to celebrate their first bountiful harvest a.k.a “The First Thanksgiving”.

Years later it became an official holiday in the United States, and that’s how the wonderful holiday to give thanks was originated.

So now you know a little bit more about this and other American traditions and curiosities, thanks to our students from the US!


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