According to acronymmonster, Thanksgiving is the second most popular holiday in the United States after Christmas and takes place on the fourth Thursday in November. We’ll explain everything you need to know about the American festival of gratitude – from old family traditions to turkey rescue and the obligatory Thanksgiving dinner.
The story of Thanksgiving
There are three different stories competing for the title ” The Real Origin of Thanksgiving”, so the origins of Thanksgiving in the US are not entirely clear:
- The Wampanoag , a federally recognized Native American tribe, celebrated Thanksgiving whenever there was an occasion. This could be a good harvest, the birth of a child, or some other lucky break.
- Spanish colonists celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1541 in what is now Texas, along with the Caddo Indian people to thank them for the food available.
- The Pilgrim Fathers celebrated a big harvest festival together with the Wampanoag in 1621 to thank them for their help after their arrival in America.
About 300 years before the USA began to feed itself into a “ food coma” punctually at the end of November, Thanksgiving was initially celebrated without any fixed rules. The festival of gratitude was only declared an official national holiday in 1941 – by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Since then, every year before Thanksgiving, millions of Americans have made a “ pilgrimage” to their families in their hometowns, thereby reliably paralyzing the entire infrastructure of the USA.
WHO CELEBRATES THANKSGIVING?
Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA regardless of religion or origin. Thanksgiving is also celebrated in other countries such as Germany, Canada and England, but the Americans are undoubtedly the absolute Thanksgiving world champions.
WHY IS THANKSGIVING CELEBRATED?
Thanksgiving is about an expression of gratitude – every US citizen knows that.
American Thanksgiving Day is the day of warmth, family, and friendship. People come together and reflect on how well they are and who they owe this to.
On Thanksgiving, thank everyone who comes to mind: your parents, your teachers, your kids, your pets… maybe even the delivery guy who never rings and the guy who stole your parking lot yesterday.
Gratitude is healthy, and Americans know it. If you sit down in peace, you will find many reasons to thank people, animals or nature.
HOW HAS THANKSGIVING CHANGED?
Unlike the now over-commercialized Christmas and Halloween celebrations, Thanksgiving hasn’t changed too much in the minds of most Americans.
The few innovations in the “ pop culture” of the festival were mainly caused by the food industry or the changing family structures of the Americans. A few exciting developments in Thanksgiving history include:
- Friendsgiving: Many Americans attach less and less importance to living compulsively in conservative mother-father-child structures and therefore look for a “ framily” (word mix on “ friend” and “ family”) with whom they can spend the festival of gratitude.
- Canned Food: We don’t know how the advertising industry did this, but “ traditional” Thanksgiving dishes made entirely of canned foods like cream mushroom soup and canned vegetables have been around since the 1950’s. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the ” Green Bean Casserole”.
- Food experiments: In modern households nowadays people like to try exotic side dishes to spice up the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The mashed potatoes are fried, whole heads of cabbage are roasted and the good old casserole is suddenly full of peaches – much to the chagrin of grandma and grandpa.
- “Turkey” and “Baked Ham” are now also vegan:Americans are increasingly opting for cruelty-free food. The result was a completely new branch of the food industry: the holiday roasts made from tofu, seitan, mushrooms and legumes are called ” Tofurky”, ” Quorn Turk’y Roast” or ” Vegan Whole Turkey” and they often look deceptively real. Do they taste good too? You have to judge for yourself.
Customs and Traditions: This is how Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States
Traditionally, the whole family comes together for a big feast on Thanksgiving, whereby the focus is not on the food, but on the cozy get-together. The old customs are repeated from year to year.
The most important ingredients of the Thanksgiving dinner include:
- Turkey: This is why Thanksgiving is also called ” Turkey Day” in the USA. The giant bird is roasted in the oven with a delicious filling (in the past it was often oysters, today it is more like bread with herbs and / or chestnuts).
- Baked ham: Baked Ham or Glazed Ham is served either instead of the turkey or at the same time. The often sweet and sour preparation with pineapple or apricot glaze and honey is certainly a matter of taste, but the preparation is much easier than with a turkey.
- Stuffed Pumpkin: A roasted pumpkin can be filled with pretty much anything delicious. Vegetarians and vegans don’t have to starve to death here either. Popular fillings consist of cornbread, mushrooms, kale (that’s kale, but cooler), sometimes noodles, and thyme. Eggs, cheese and cream are added depending on the taste.
- Cranberry Sauce: The question of whether Thanksgiving cranberry jelly is delicious or perverted divides families, groups of friends and maybe even America. Very often the tart, sweet ingredient is simply shaken out of a tin can as a wobbly purple block and served exactly that way. The homemade variants, on the other hand, are usually tasty and healthy.
- Mashed potatoes: It just has to be dripping with butter, and only then is it real Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.
- Pumpkin pie: Another controversial Thanksgiving dish is the obligatory pumpkin pie. If it is the pumpkin pie known from film and television, then it is at least very pretty to look at. Depending on the recipe, however, you can deal with some pretty crazy spices and unexpected flavors like pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and cloves.Tip:There is also a tin can version of pumpkin puree for pumpkin pie in the USA. However, we would advise against using it if you are still in possession of your sense of taste.
- Sweet Potato Casserole: On a layer of sweet potatoes, either marshmallows or brown sugar (or both) are spread. Then the thing is put in the oven.
- Corn: The yellow cereal is prepared either on the cob, from the can or even from the freezer.
- Other vegetables like green beans, carrots, celery, parsnips, turnips, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, fresh lettuce, cauliflower or a relish of pickled pickles like pickles, olives, peppers and onions
- Pastries: These often include cornbread, rolls, cookies, and filled pies.
- Cake, cake, cake! A juicy pecan cake is a must for Thanksgiving. Apple pie, cherry pie or sweet potato pie are also often served.
- Regional specialties are of course also often included. Every corner of the United States has its own traditional treat for Thanksgiving.
- After eating:break the wishbone. The turkey’s fork leg is held at either end by two people. If you hold the larger piece in your hand after pulling it apart, you can make a wish.
HOW DO AMERICANS SPEND THANKSGIVING DAY?
Outside of the set Thanksgiving table, too, there are a few things most Americans enjoy doing on Thanksgiving Day. We outline a typical daily routine:
- 9:00 am:Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV: The sensational parade with its famous ” Floats” (floating figures) moves through the streets of New York City every year. Millions of viewers follow the gigantic spectacle live on TV. Macy’s Day Parade lasts until noon.Parallel: meal preparation
- 10:00 a.m.:Last errands + food preparation
- 12:00 p.m.:Official turkey pardon by the US President on TV. Every year two Thanksgiving Turkeys are given their lives at the “Annual Turkey Pardon”. The lucky winners will be selected by the National Turkey Foundation.Parallel: meal preparation
- 12:00 p.m.:drinks! The average American already enjoys indulging in his first alcoholic drink. Autumnal cocktails with ginger, cranberry and cinnamon or hot apple cider with vanilla are often served.Parallel: meal preparation
- 12:00 pm:National Dog Show on TV: America’s cutest competition in the USA has roughly the status of “ Dinner for One” in Germany and is seen more as an ironic tradition. This year, 20 million viewers are expected. The National Dog Show runs until 2 p.m.Parallel: meal preparation
- 12:20 p.m.:drinks! Beer works too.Parallel: meal preparation
- 12:30 p.m.:American football on TV. On Thanksgiving, various NFL and college football games traditionally run late into the evening on Fox, CBS, NBC and other channels.Parallel: meal preparation
- 12:20 p.m.:drinks! Champagne?Parallel: meal preparation
- 1:00 p.m.:eat, eat, eat. The start times for the big bite of course vary greatly. But people actually eat and nibble all day long.
- 1:00 p.m.:drinks! One is still going, one is still going in.
- 5:00 p.m.:eat, eat, eat. You should have reached a whopping 3,000 calories by now. And it goes further.
- 5:00 p.m.:drinks! To be clear: There are of course excellent non-alcoholic cocktails for Thanksgiving. And cola (the US national drink) also helps against the feeling of fullness.
- from 7:00 p.m.:Off to the bar – more drinks! Everyone who goes home to see family and old friends on Thanksgiving naturally wants to meet the latter too. While young people in particular move to the bar on “ Blackout Wednesday” (the day before Thanksgiving), the older generations traditionally tend to get lost in “ drinks giving” at one of the numerous parties in the area.
How Long Are Thanksgiving Holidays in the United States?
Because Thanksgiving traditionally takes place on a Thursday, most Americans take the Friday off afterwards to enjoy a 4-day vacation. With arrival and departure times of several days, the individual holiday for Thanksgiving is of course extended accordingly.
Why do Americans eat turkey for Thanksgiving?
Responsible for the annual big turkey dinner were in all probability the first English immigrants, who simply chose it as a feast because of the bird’s ” practical size”. As with the creation of Thanksgiving, there are different narratives here.
In stories about the origins of Thanksgiving in the United States, the turkey plays a minor role; rather, game meat was eaten. The Thanksgiving turkey did not appear so dominantly on the banquet tables of American households until the middle of the 19th century.
Bonus: Fun Facts About Thanksgiving
- Early Thanksgiving Dinner: Many families have adopted the Thanksgiving meal between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and then sitting together for hours. It’s also not uncommon for a family member to take a quick nap on the sofa during dinner and then come back to the table to continue eating.
- Wishbone even without turkey:The American Ken Ahroni with his company ” Lucky Break” actually invented commercial fork bones made of plastic. He wanted to put an end to the shortage of Thanksgiving wishes. This also led to the fact that vegetarians and vegans can now take part in the traditional wishbone breaking.
- The turkey is by no means the main dish in all American households. Deer, shellfish or even eel are often on the table.
- Americans eat up to 4,500 calories per capita on Thanksgiving.
- The turkeys pardoned by the US President get their own bodyguards when they are brought to the White House. On the website of the White House you can also find their profiles, in which the birds’ favorite music and food, the sound of their ” gobble” (the unique turkey sound) and their other goals in life are presented.
- Gentle birds:Turkeys can form strong bonds with humans. They like to play with round objects and are naturally very curious. Much like humans, turkeys can recognize each other by their own unique calls.
What happens after Thanksgiving?
The day after Thanksgiving is in the United States ” called Black Friday” and turns over America to bargain hunting. Invented by US retailers, the shopping day is known for mega discounts that you really only get once a year. Since e-commerce became popular, Black Friday has also been followed by Cyber Monday.
If you’ve been wondering what the best way to get rid of those 4,500 calories, the best thing to do is pay a visit to the retailers in your area on ” Black Friday” and get fit again.