Thanksgiving Day 2016: Thursday, November 24

Thanks Giving Day

Thanksgiving is a great time to be thankful and appreciate “whom you have” & “what you have”. It is a time for families to meet, socialize and enjoy each other’s company. Thanksgiving Day is held on 4th Thursday of November every year and it is a National holiday in the United States of America. So, if you are going to be anywhere in the world towards end November then it has to be in the US. A busy country takes time off from its hectic work schedule to chill, wine & dine and spend time with their families and friends. Based on my experience, almost the whole country literally shuts down and gets down to the serious business of merry-making.

The families meet on this day and prepare their favorite dishes like Turkey, Pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, bread rolls, corn bread, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and so on…served along with cocktails and wines. Of course food and wine is the mainstay of every big festive occasion and Thanksgiving season is no different.  But, sometimes you stop and ponder if Thanksgiving is all frivolous.  I did a bit of digging in a library and also on the Internet and found out that this tradition is steeped in history every inch of the way …

It all began in the year 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians held a feast to celebrate the autumn harvest – one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations which was organized by Governor William Bradford. He invited a group of Native Americans including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. This festival lasted for three days. However, it came to be known as Thanksgiving much later. Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event. The Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods while missing out on pies, cakes or other desserts which have come to represent today’s feasts.

Thanksgiving Day started becoming a holiday since 1817 in the state of New York although American South remained largely out of this tradition. In 1827, the magazine editor and writer Sarah Josepha Hale, the famous author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent several letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. President Abraham Lincoln finally acceded to her request in 1863 and decreed that Thanksgiving be observed as a holiday on the final Thursday in November.  In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in order to kick start sales during the Great Depression. Finally, in 1941, the same president signed a bill to revert Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November.

Many big cities and towns hold a Thanksgiving Day parade, the most famous of which is the Macy’s parade in New York City and this is the one I shall recommend most. The three-hour event features floats, costumes and huge helium balloons in the shape of cartoon characters including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snoopy the Dog and Felix the Cat. These shall take your breath away by its sheer color, size and grandeur. Last few years have seen the debut of Pikachu of Pokemon fame, Paddington Bear and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Playing and watching American football is one of the longest held Thanksgiving traditions. NFL, college, high school and amateur teams have always played over the Thanksgiving weekend practically since the time this game was invented.  Thanksgiving Day is easily one of the biggest days in the football calendar. But, I would personally prefer spending my time outside mingling with the crowd of merry Americans than idle away my time just being a couch potato.  End-November being just the onset of winter ensures pleasant climate which allows one to enjoy being outdoors doing all kinds of things. For the overworked few like myself, I also treat Thanksgiving as a long holiday to take a break from work and routine …

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