By Sondra Schreiber
As you probably know, Thanksgiving Break is coming up in just a week! But, besides a week off from classes, what does this holiday mean to Americans? The Thanksgiving holiday is unique to the United States and Canada. In the US, Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the third Thursday in November. The history of Thanksgiving is not exactly clear, but it is commonly traced back to a plentiful harvest in 1621 at Plymouth, which is in present day Massachusetts. Most children in the US are taught that at this first Thanksgiving the settlers (called pilgrims) and the Native Americans celebrated the bountiful harvest together by having a feast.
Today, Thanksgiving is usually celebrated with family and food. It is seen as a time to be thankful for what we have. Food plays a major role in Thanksgiving, especially turkey. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is celebrated by preparing a large turkey with stuffing. Although everyone may have their own unique traditions regarding the rest of the food served, some other commonly served food items include cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, rolls, and pumpkin pie. At my house, we usually go around the table and everyone says something they are thankful for before we begin eating.
After the Thanksgiving meal, which usually takes place around midday, it is common for families to relax, take a nap or watch American football on TV. There are usually many football games played throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. At my house, we usually play cards or board games together after the meal.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday that is unlike any other holiday in the US. People of all religions, ethnic origins, ages, races and social classes celebrate this special day. If you get the chance to spend Thanksgiving with an American family or your US friends, you should take it, because it's a great opportunity to learn more about a longstanding American tradition! For those of you who want to experience a preview of the Thanksgiving before the actual day, the YMCA on campus is hosting its annual Thanksgiving Potluck this Thursday, November 15 at the University YMCA from 7:00-9:00 pm. For more information about this event, visit their page.
*Side note: The Friday after Thanksgiving is commonly referred to as “Black Friday” in the United States. This is the biggest shopping day of the year. Although not an official holiday, many people get this day off of work, therefore increasing the number of shoppers. On this day, many stores and malls open very early in the morning, like 4:00 or 5:00 am, and some even open at midnight on Thanksgiving night. Most retailers offer huge specials and discounts if you come to the store early. Some people line up outside of stores for most of the night waiting for them to open.