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Thanksgiving Celebrations Turkey picture

Thanksgiving Celebrations

Thanksgiving is one of the most important and culturally recognized holidays in America, and with good reason. It has its roots in the early days of European colonization of North America, and signifies a time where people can come together and eat the delicious foods that come around this season, to prepare for the coming winter. With this in mind, this article seeks to give you a little history on this venerated holiday, and show you some ways in which Americans celebrate Thanksgiving to this day.

Thanksgiving Day is usually on the fourth Thursday of November for American citizens; in Canada, they celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday. The pervading wisdom is that the first Thanksgiving was in 1621, when the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest festival near Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. Of course, there were also earlier thanksgiving celebrations in 1565 and 1578, but this Pilgrim-fueled feast is the one that triggered the national holiday as we know it.

George Washington was the one to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1789, and the tradition stuck, to the point where it is a fixture to this day. There were years where no Thanksgiving was declared, and it depended on the whim of the President until 1863, in which Abraham Lincoln declared it an annual observance and a national holiday.

On Thanksgiving, people typically celebrate by gathering around friends and family, and enjoying the fruits of what is a plentiful bounty and harvest that year, including many seasonal foods such as cranberries, gourds and pumpkins, and, of course, the Thanksgiving turkey. The turkey is a large symbol of Thanksgiving, as well as the cornucopia (in which most of these foods would be carried and presented in colonial harvest festivals). The normal, modern Thanksgiving will see dishes such as roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin pie, and cranberries (or cranberry sauce). While the traditions naturally change as a consequence of shifting sensibilities, these core concepts and rituals remain an important part of the Thanksgiving tradition.

Insofar as public displays of Thanksgiving are concerned, there are many different celebrations of the holiday observed throughout the country. In many major cities, there is a major parade through a metropolitan area of the city, the most famous of which is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, New York. Throughout this and the other parades are floats detailing many different themes such as film and television shows, Broadway plays, and the like, all accompanied by bands and live music. Other cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis have their own parades as well, but none of them have the cultural impact that the New York parade has on the American imagination.

Football games also take place on Thanksgiving, and can be a part of modern Thanksgiving tradition for a lot of households. Thanksgiving weekend is usually the time when college football teams finish out their season, and the NFL typically have a major football game on Thanksgiving Day, calling it the Thanksgiving Classic. This holiday can also be home to other high school and amateur football games, where they call it the Turkey Bowl. Film and television has its own share of Thanksgiving traditions as well; classic television specials and movies related to the holiday are broadcast so that families may have something to partake in the holiday spirit; for example, the special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, as well as films like The Wizard of Oz, are played, and there are plenty of Thanksgiving-related songs that are played on the radio.

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday in and of itself; it can often be a symbol for the start of the Christmas season. Black Friday is the day after Christmas, and is a day in which all major retail stores provide substantial bargains on top quality products in order to facilitate early Christmas shopping. Most radio stations switch over to Christmas music at this point, and the decorations start to begin. That being said, it is hard to argue against the importance of Thanksgiving, as well as the role that it plays in our popular culture. From its roots as a religious festival meant to provide thanks for the food they have received to its modern day incarnation, Thanksgiving is here to stay.

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