Speaking of America’s most popular holiday, many would imagine houses decorated in Christmas lights. Next to Independence Day, however, the most important holiday in the United States is Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims throughout the year to celebrate a good harvest and didn’t have a specific date until 1941 when Thanksgiving became an official national holiday. It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who declared the fourth Thursday in November to always be Thanksgiving. Luckily for Americans, this usually means they get a long weekend!
Thanksgiving takes place every fourth Thursday in November. Many Americans use this official holiday and the long weekend to visit family. This is why it is one of the most popular holidays for many Americans. Start planning now because Thanksgiving will take place on the following Thursdays:
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There are many theories about the origins of Thanksgiving, but the most common one is:
On this national holiday, families gather together to share a large meal with one another. The focal point of this holiday although is not the meal, but the importance of family and friends coming together. The first Thanksgiving can be traced back to autumn 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared a meal together and gave thanks for the harvest. Almost 400 years later, Thanksgiving is still being celebrated in America.
The usual Thanksgiving celebrations include:
The main focus of Thanksgiving is getting together to enjoy time with family and friends. Over the years, many aspects of Thanksgiving have become very American.
One of these is using the long weekend to visit family and friends who may no longer live close to you. Americans tend to move often in their lives and may no longer live where they grew up. That is why Thanksgiving is so important. Many Americans get in their cars and make the long drive to gather with their loved ones. At this time, traffic can also make the drive longer.
A longer drive, however, is not a bad thing! It will increase your hunger for the Thanksgiving feast. A feast is always a good reason to gather around the table. Some of the most popular dishes on the Thanksgiving table include:
Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without a turkey! A roasted turkey stuffed with apples and bread crumbs and served with gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce is the center piece of every Thanksgiving meal. So many turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving that the president will pardon one in the spirit of Thanksgiving! This annual event may seem strange to non-Americans. The event is run by the National Turkey Foundation which chooses one to two turkeys to pardon each year. The turkeys even get their own secret service agents for protection when they are brought to the White House!
The tradition of giving turkeys to the president even spans back to 1873. John F. Kennedy is said to be the first to let the turkey go and each president afterwards from Nixon to Obama has freed the Thanksgiving turkey from becoming dinner!
On this day, many charitable organizations also provide Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless or poor as well as holding food drives for the needy. Giving back to the community is all part of the spirit of Thanksgiving.
After eating their full of Turkey, many Americans turn to the living room to relax on the coach and watch American football. Football is one of America’s favorite pastimes and nothing helps you digest better than watching your favorite team score points! Take a look at our section on U.S. Sports for more sports-fun!
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is the largest and most popular parade in the USA. In addition to the 2-3 million visitors, the parade is watched by millions of Americans at home on the television. Many families gather around the TV after Thanksgiving dinner to watch this spectacle and awe at the giant balloons.
Those who would like to experience the parade and the fun first-hand should take advantage of the expertise of The American Dream.
The Friday after Thanksgiving signalizes the start of the Christmas shopping season and this Friday has been named “Black Friday”. This very American tradition occurs every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. On this day, stores offer their products for extremely discounted prices. Sometimes stores even give away products to the first people who enter the store. That is why some people start lining up at the doors so early and some even spend the night in tents!
The name “Black Friday” for the largest shopping day in America has two possible origins.
Today, Black Friday is only for the bravest of shoppers who dare to go and stand hours in line to get the best prices. So, go out and burn off your Thanksgiving dinner by shopping!
You may have heard of Cyber Monday? Green Monday is the American version of this term coined to describe the second biggest shopping day after Black Friday. Green Monday is celebrated on the second Monday in December and is when online retailers start to lower prices and offer discounts.
Win a U.S. permanent resident card by participating in the Green Card Lottery and spend your next Thanksgiving holiday eating turkey in the USA! We are keeping our fingers crossed that you can say, “Thank you for the Green Card” next year! Bon Appetit and the best of luck in the Green Card Lottery!