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Celebrated in multifarious creative ways as a festive national holiday in the United States, Thanksgiving Day represents the sentiments of the North American continent to the favours with respect to safe journeys, peace, and bountiful harvests received individually from the Lord on the fourth Tuesday of November, which this time, is on 24 November 2022.
This is an occasion to remember the previous year's blessings and to celebrate the harvest season in ways that appeal to them. Read on to know more.
Thanksgiving Day 2022: Origin
The very first feast that celebrates the Autumn harvest was arranged by the Plymouth Colony and Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621. In the colonies that set an antecedent to the thanksgiving festivals that followed later. The second time it was celebrated was in 1623 as a day to acknowledge the end of the long drought that had affected the harvest to such an extent that a religious fast had to be called for ultimately. Other New England settlements too followed suit by beginning the tradition of fasting and thanksgiving annually or occasionally.
This festival was celebrated as an individual family festival for more than two centuries by colonies and states, but in the year 1863, during the civil war strife that it was declared a National Thanksgiving Day that was to be held on the final Thursday of November, and it was celebrated on that day every year.
In 1939, Franklin D Roosevelt started a tradition by declaring a week's holiday to celebrate Thanksgiving. This was a ploy to improve sales during the Great Depression, that met with stiff opposition, and was also ridiculed as 'Franksgiving', and hence things were restored to normal in 1941 when the President signed a bill that declared Thanksgiving to be a one-day celebration.
New York in 1817 declared the Thanksgiving holiday and every state earmarked different dates for the celebrations. However, South America remained oblivious to all these changes.
In 1789, George Washington issued the first proclamation in favour of celebrating the Thanksgiving Day, which was followed by his successors John Adams and James Madison during their tenure. This tradition continued with succeeding Presidents, namely Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Sarah Josepha Hale, a famous writer is hailed as the mother of Thanksgiving Day. She was the famous writer behind the iconic rhyme in 1827, "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Launching a campaign of a continuous 36 years, to get the Thanksgiving Day introduced as a national celebration and a holiday, she used her editorials and scores of letters that she wrote to governors and other senior politicians as a vehicle for her campaign. Abraham Lincoln finally listened to her pleas and granted her request in 1863.
It now represents peaceful existence together, of people from different cultures and races. America's generous disposition towards newcomers, and to uphold the sanctity of home and the family relationships that are thicker than blood.
Thanksgiving Day 2022: Celebrations
Although initially this festival had heavy religious connotations, over time, it acquired a secular colour and began to be treated as a secular holiday. On this day, most Americans express their gratitude by gorging on an assortment of dishes, having a rib-tickling fun time with family and loved ones. Others often indulge in sports or watch movies from their lazy couches. Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, has its own festive charm. The marching bands, performers, floats and giant balloons that come in the shape of cartoon characters never fail to enchant the weary souls out of the stresses and strains experienced in the past year.
Also, Canada celebrates this day on the second Monday in October, and Liberia, on the first Thursday of November. It is the Black Friday that heralds a month-long shopping season that begins in the freezing winter weather after the revelry of Thanksgiving subsides.
Thanksgiving Day 2022: Food And Feasts
Turkey is a mandatory dish on the menu that groans with a long list of Turkey varieties. For Americans, Turkey is not a dish but a celebration and also a gesture of gratitude. It is not just roasted, baked or deep fried, it is just consumed in a fitting but elaborate manner. Other prescribed Thanksgiving favourites are stuffed and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Also, they thank God for providing them with delicious food and a life to be grateful for. Some of them even visit Churches to openly express their gratitude to the Lord. They see that they have meals together in an old-fashioned way, and also video call their loved ones if they live far away from where they stay. As per a national survey, 1/5 of all cranberries in the United States are consumed on Thanksgiving Day. In the year 2015, a record was set by Americans, who consumed a huge number, of around 49 million different varieties of Turkeys.
The mass slaughter of Turkeys for the purposes of Thanksgiving did pique the humane instincts of people in the mid-20th century, when the president of the United States started the tradition of "pardoning" one or two Thanksgiving Turkeys each year, preventing their slaughter by shifting them to farms.
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Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
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