What is Thanksgiving and where is it celebrated?
Thanksgiving it’s the most wonderful time of the year in the US – a time for food, family, friends, and being thankful.
Thanksgiving is a popular American holiday, which is celebrated every year. It is primarily associated with the United States, where it occurs on the fourth Thursday in November, forms an important part of the country’s culture and marks the beginning of the holiday season, which also includes Christmas and New Year.
People across the country gather together to share a meal and reflect on all the things they’re grateful for. But there’s much more to do during this beautiful time of giving thanks than just eating. From parades to shopping, running to volunteering – Thanksgiving is celebrated in a wide variety of ways.
In the United States, Thanksgiving history is almost always traced back to 1621 and the event which is commonly known as the First Thanksgiving. It was celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers, a group of European settlers of the Plymouth Colony, which is today part of the state of Massachusetts.
The Pilgrims were celebrating their first harvest in the New World and marked the occasion with a lavish three-day feast, which was attended by both Pilgrims and Native Americans. It is believed that the Pilgrims were influenced in doing this by similar practices they had observed in Europe.
In the aftermath, many other colonies set aside specific days for giving thanks to God for their blessings. A proclamation from George Washington in 1789 led to Thanksgiving becoming a national celebration and it was made into a federal holiday, on the fourth Thursday of November, by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
Today, in the United States, the celebration largely centers around eating a large meal, which almost always includes turkey. Typically, Americans will spend the day with their family or a group of friends and give thanks for the things they feel fortunate to have in their lives. This sometimes has a religious element, with many people attending religious services or saying a prayer before eating their meal.
Due to popular culture, Thanksgiving may seem profoundly American. If you are living in a country that doesn’t celebrate it, you probably have the wrong idea that this is an all-American holiday. And that’s perfectly understandable. Nevertheless, celebrating gratitude is more universal than you think.
The Canadian version of Thanksgiving is very similar to its American relative. You’ve got the turkey, the mashed potatoes, the legendary gravy, the corn, and the pumpkin pie. Moreover, both Americans and Canadians like to watch football and spend time with family on this day. Everything seems familiar. Except for the date, of course. Canadian festivity is celebrated on the second Monday in October, much earlier than the United States which celebrates it on the fourth Thursday in November.
In Europe, the idea of Thanksgiving generally involves the celebration of the autumn harvests. Largely religious in nature, the celebration occurs around the time of the main harvest – early October in this situation. In German-speaking countries, the event is called Erntedankfest.
Ok, this is not entirely true. Not all Dutch people celebrate Thanksgiving, just this city called Leiden. The interesting thing is that the celebration in Leiden has everything to do with the United States celebration.
The United KingdoSimilar to the Erntedankfest celebration in German-speaking countries, Thanksgiving in the UK is actually a Harvest Festival held in late September or early October. During pre-Christian times in Britain, the Saxons would offer the first sheaf of cereals to fertility gods then come together and celebrate the harvest with a supper. Many traditions remained even though Christianity arrived in Britain so the present-day Harvest Festival is celebrated even by churches.
This is kind of a funny one. Apparently, sometime in the 1940s, Brazilian ambassador Joaquim Nabuco returned home from a trip to the US very enthusiastic about the commemorations he saw in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thanksgiving Day. So he suggested to President Gaspar Dutra to institute the celebration in Brazil as well.
Although it rhymes with Canada, you should know that Grenada is actually a Caribbean country and its Thanksgiving celebration is one of the youngest in the world. Every year, on the 25th of October, Grenadians commemorate the events that took place in 1983, when Grenada’s deputy prime minister executed the prime minister and seized the power.
The ancient Shinto rice harvest ceremony and it’s celebrated annually on the 23rd of November. Known today as ‘Labor Thanksgiving Day’, the celebration has lost some of its original meaning and is regarded now as an occasion for commemorating labor and reflecting on issues that impact the community, such as the environment and human rights.