With sun filled Christmas celebrations fast approaching here in Oz, we thought we’d look into a Winter Thanksgiving Day, and find out what it’s all about. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated through the United States and Canada and was originally a holiday to give thanks to God for the harvest. It is special day to celebrate with family and loved ones and today, it is an opportunity for everyone, everywhere to give thanks for all the good things that have been bestowed upon us.
After spending Thanksgiving dinner with American friends, we were all asked around the table one by one, to say what we were grateful for… this had such a profound effect that our family adopted this beautiful tradition and have done so every Christmas Day, no matter where we are or who we are with. The tradition of Thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts. They first held a celebration of their harvest in 1621. The feast was organized by Governor William Bradford who also invited the local Wampanoag Indians to join in the meal. The first time they called the feast “Thanksgiving” was in 1623, after rain had ended a long drought.
The first national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789. However, it did not become a regular holiday in the United States until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared that the last Thursday in November should be celebrated as Thanksgiving. Since then it has been celebrated every year in the United States. The day was made an official federal holiday and moved to the fourth Thursday of November in 1941 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Many cities have large parades on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps the largest and most famous parade is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It is widely televised and has been running since 1924. Another popular way to spend the day is watching NFL football. There are generally a number of football games on.
So why not do what we do this Christmas day and spend time with with family and loved ones and give thanks for the abundance we share in the land down under.
Fun Facts about Thanksgiving
- Each year a live turkey is presented to the President of the United States who then “pardons” the turkey and it gets to live out its life on a farm.
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird instead of the bald eagle.
- The Pilgrims sailed to America from Great Britain on a ship called the Mayflower.
- The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. It is the biggest shopping day of the year.