Thanksgiving Day in the United States: the traditions and history of the festival
Among all US public holidays, Thanksgiving Day in the USA, perhaps more than any other, is known outside of the country. Almost everyone has heard of this festive date, but not everyone knows about the history and traditions of this holiday.
Initially, the Thanksgiving holiday was religious. On this day the faithful expressed their gratitude to God for all the auspicious events of their life. Today the feast lost its religious traits, becoming universally accepted, it is celebrated by all citizens, regardless of religion.
The history of Thanksgiving in America is very interesting. The tradition of celebrating this date originated in the 17th century, the first festival was held in 1621 by the first settlers, who moved to the North American continent from England.
The ship has arrived at the shores of America in November. People, who had got to another continent, founded the first settlement - the Plymouth colony. Winter was hard and not all the colonists, who arrived, managed to survive. More than half of people have died, unable to endure hardship. By the spring in the colony were no more than fifty people, who began to develop the local lands, but not the most fertile lands. These colonists got a great help from the local residents - tribal Indians Squanto, who had taught the people, who came to cultivate on poor lands the vegetable crops.
In the fall, gathering quite a large harvest, the colonists decided to organize a celebration, to give praise to God. On this holiday were also invited local residents - the Indians. But at that time the tradition of celebrating the feast had not developed, Thanksgiving Day settlers celebrated from time to time.
The initiator of the state holiday became the first president of the United States, who was elected after the country got independence. Abraham Lincoln offered to celebrate this festival annually, marking its 26th November.
Date of Thanksgiving Day celebration was changed several times. Currently, it is celebrated on the last Thursday of November. That is, it is impossible to say an exact date of the festival. The date is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of the last month of autumn.
The traditions of celebrating
Despite the fact that the day of Thanksgiving in America has long ceased to be a religious holiday, this date is full of tradition.
The most important of them is that Americans celebrate this festive date as a family. They visit the oldest generation of the family and eat together a holiday dinner. Each family member must remember and to say what’s good and meaningful happened to him over the past year.
Traditional dishes are also supplied to the festive table. Turkey with cranberry jam - it is not just a tradition, as a kind of symbol of the holiday. Why turkey? It is believed that exactly this bird, which was shot down by hunters in the nearby forest, the colonists brought to the table during the first celebration of Thanksgiving Day.
In addition, the festive table should have an abundance of fruits and vegetables, symbolizing a good harvest and the well-fed winter. Oranges, grapes, apples, corn, and other gifts of nature should be presented on the table in abundance.
Another obligatory dish, which is served at the holiday table - is a sweet dessert cake with golden pumpkin filling. The table should be decorated with bouquets necessarily composed of autumn flowers and twigs with berries. All this creates a feeling of nature's bounty, rich harvest and the abundance of products.
Another common tradition - is the help your neighbor. In anticipation of the holiday, Americans are trying to do charity work and to feed the people, who are not very lucky in life. Already in mid-November in crowded places in the city open reception centers of help. Citizens can donate money or products that are used to prepare the festive dinners for the poor and homeless.
Each year Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with a grand parade held in New York. This exciting tradition began in 1924, thanks to the employees of a large «Macy's department store» trading network. At that time, on the streets of New York was the first cheerful carnival, which gave a start to the traditional Christmas sales season. On that day on the streets were held animals from the zoo, which, of course, very pleased the children who were the main guests of the festival.
Four years later, on the parade began to run inflatable figures depicting fairytale characters or animals. This further fueled the interest of the residents and visitors of New York for a carnival procession. Photos from the annual parades could only partially convey a festive atmosphere at this time on the streets.
In today's parade on Thanksgiving Day is often being attended by the famous people, movie stars and show business. In addition, on the parade are always a lot of clowns, buskers, and jugglers. Spectators can watch the parade for free and for the children, even specifically are allocated the most suitable places along the roadsides.