The party of Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, which is held next Thursday, is one of the most important on the calendar of USA, and although it has not been replicated in the rest of the world, some of its details, such as the Black friday, have already crossed its borders.
These are the eight main things that define this typically American holiday:
1. The origin
It is popular belief that its tradition dates back to 1621, when the first English settlers in North America gathered to celebrate their first harvest and give thanks to God. Wampanoag Indians appeared at that celebration in Plymouth, eating and drinking alongside the settlers. But like all founding myths, very few of these things are true, and the party as it is now known dates back to the 19th century.
Thanksgiving was celebrated on different dates in the fall according to the states, and its proclamation as an American national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of each November is due to Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Although the proclamation was made during the Civil War and it may have been a failure among the southern rebels, it soon became one of the parties shared by all Americans.
3. Lay celebration
Unlike Christmas, the other great holiday followed in the United States as in the entire world of Christian culture, Thanksgiving has a transversal character to all the religions that are practiced in the country. It is celebrated by Christians of all stripes, Jews, Muslims, and even secular or atheists. There is no religious ceremony associated with the festival on that day.
It may interest you: 3 cocktails to toast on Thanksgiving
4. Family reunions
Thanksgiving is the time of year par excellence for family reunions: in a country with high labor mobility, this is the date when children take airplanes and all kinds of transport to meet their parents and siblings, and traffic is very intense in the previous days at airports and train or bus stations to spend these four days together, as Friday usually becomes an informal holiday that joins the weekend.
Families also usually invite those who for professional or personal reasons are alone, so that they do not spend that important day alone.
Those who do not have a family to go to, get together among friends, in what has been called “Friendsgiving.”
5. Turkey on the table
It is almost mandatory that each family eat, at the end of the afternoon, a roast turkey, accompanied by mashed potato, lingonberry sauce and pumpkin pie. All the supermarkets in the country offer turkeys for the occasion, and this year it is estimated that 46 million animals will be killed.
In the week before the party, the country’s president “pardons” a turkey he presents in society in a televised event, and the lucky person is “baptized” with a name.
Some politicians of a more populist character give away dozens of turkeys among their voters at this party to ensure their loyalty.
6. Long sports day
The (American) football league always schedules a game day on Thanksgiving, and it is common for families to sit on the sofa to watch hours and hours of looping games while waiting for the turkey, or even after the meal.
7. Acts of charity
In recent years, charities have become popular on the occasion of the party, and there are people who dedicate a few hours of that day to accompany the most needy and serve hot meals in shelters where the homeless live. Some do not fail to take advantage of the occasion to give timely publicity to their charitable acts, and thus it is common to see famous politicians, artists or athletes taking their portraits at that charitable moment. There are those who exercise charity not with people but with animals, in a country where the care of domestic animals is almost a religion.
8. Black Friday
The day after Thanksgiving is the famous Black friday, the day when stores announce generous discounts and customers take department stores by storm, although online shopping has tempered that phenomenon. It is, curiously, the only one of the traditions associated with Thanksgiving that has crossed borders to become a worldwide phenomenon.