The history and culture behind Thanksgiving

The history and culture behind Thanksgiving

In the United States, this is the most delightful time of the year, a time for celebrating with loved ones over a feast and counting one’s blessings. Thanksgiving, a holiday that began as a harvest celebration, has grown to become a major event in the United States. Around the nation, families and friends get together to break bread and give thanks. On the other hand, there’s more to the Thanksgiving holiday than simply eating. There is a vast range of Thanksgiving celebrations, including parades, shopping, races, and charity work.

History of Thanksgiving

There are competing stories about the exact location of the first Thanksgiving, but the one that has stuck is the one about the pilgrims who celebrated for three days in 1621 in Plymouth Colony (now Plymouth, Massachusetts). This meal is generally agreed upon as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation designating the last Thursday of November to be a day of thanksgiving, which dates back more than two centuries. The Congress did not declare Thanksgiving a federal holiday until 1941.

Success against the British at the Conflict of Saratoga prompted the first American request for a nationwide festival of thanksgiving. It was during the final Thursday of November, 1789, that George Washington once again advocated for a nationwide day of appreciation to celebrate the Constitution’s adoption and the conclusion of the American Revolution. Both the Confederate as well as the Union declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday after significant advances during the Civil War.

Traditions related to Thanksgiving

New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Carnival has been held annually since 1924. Originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade, it was devised to kick off the holiday shopping rush. Workers at Macy’s organized the inaugural Thanksgiving Holiday parade in 1924, and they requested wildlife from the Central Park Zoo to appear. Today, the procession would be incomplete without the enormous balloons. It is believed that in the current day, over 3 million people witness the march in real every year, and that another 44 million watch it on television from the comforts of their own homes.


There is no canonical explanation for why turkey is always served as the main course at Thanksgiving feasts, although it was probably the most accessible meat in the Plymouth Colony back in 1621. Since then, we’ve always had turkey during Thanksgiving. Over ninety-five percent of Thanksgiving dinners in the United States include turkey, as per the National Turkey Federation. Even during weeks running up to Thanksgiving, roughly 280 million turkeys are bought.

It’s safe to say that the 1621 feast wasn’t all that different in terms of the cuisine served from what we’d consider regular fare nowadays. Turkey, venison, ducks, lobster, salmon, clams, pumpkin, zucchini, cranberries, and fruit were all part of the pilgrims’ feast. Except for the seafood, these dishes remain mainstays at modern Thanksgiving tables.

The wishbone

On Thanksgiving, it’s customary to utilize a lucky wishbone from a turkey. The custom often involves two individuals, one at each end of the fragile bone, quietly expressing a wish as they pull until the bone breaks. Whoever gets the bigger piece, legend has said, will have their desire realized. This custom goes all the way back to the Etruscan culture approximately 322 B.C. The Romans carried the ritual with them whenever they invaded England, as well as the English colonial officers then continued to bring the practice to America.

Link between Thanksgiving and the poem “Mary had a little lamb”?

Around 1863, President Lincoln made the first formal declaration of a nationwide Thanksgiving holiday, establishing it as a yearly observance on the fourth Thursday of November. Sarah Josepha Hale, poet of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and ardent anti-slavery activist, tirelessly advocated for this declaration for years.

Contributing to society

Food drives are held annually in many towns around the United States to collect boxed and canned goods for people in need in the tradition of Thanksgiving and community service. They also provide Thanksgiving feasts for the community so that everyone may get together for a hearty meal.

The pumpkin pie with family

Historically a delicacy of the Midwest, green beans casserole has gained widespread popularity in recent years. After dinner, a slice of pumpkin pie is the perfect ending.  Even as early as the start of the eighteenth century, pumpkin pie was always included on New England Thanksgiving menus. In 1705, there was supposedly a molasses scarcity, so the Thanksgiving dinner inside the Connecticut settlement of Colchester was delayed by a week. Minus pumpkin pie and family, Thanksgiving would be incomplete.

Celebration of Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving celebration wouldn’t be proper alone without turkey and fixings. Smoked turkey, cranberry relish, filling, mash potato with gravy, yams, and Brussels sprouts are essential sides.

Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings often revolve on family gatherings watching football

Many American Thanksgiving gatherings center around a football game. This custom stems back to the first-ever football match among Yale and Princeton, that was played on Thanksgiving Day in 1876—since that time, playing football has been associated with Thanksgiving. It’s a fascinating thought that a single football match from 1876 might have such a long-lasting effect on an apparently unrelated festival.

“Drinksgiving” occurs on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

During this festive season, many toasts will be made. The night before Thanksgiving, that has emerged as arguably among the booziest evenings of the year, comes before the famous meal even starts. “Black Wednesday” is what some people are calling it now. On the evening before Thanksgiving, many companies, not only bars, see an uptick in sales due to the holiday. In recent years, Uber has even provided free trips on that evening to capitalize on the increased demand.

Black Friday is the day to go shopping till you drop.

The day following Thanksgiving is often the busiest shopping day of the year. This day has become so popular that it is nearly celebrated as a holiday now: Black Friday. Despite the shift to online shopping, many people still wake up very early on Black Friday to score the best deals and kick off their holiday shopping.

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