In the United States and elsewhere, people will be spending the 22ndof November eating giant turkeys, watching football (the kind without feet) and having interactions of various quality with their family members. While the holiday is a natural part of life for some people, held in the same regard as Easter and Christmas, most people around the world are very confused about the significance and history of the holiday, and still others can’t wait for Black Friday to start the next day. Meanwhile, as an American, it was a bit of a culture shock when I traveled to Denmark, only to discover people celebrating Christmas in early November.
Of course, that’s because where I’m from, the first part of November is the lead-up to Thanksgiving, as the United States celebrates it on the fourth Thursday of November. However, it’s not that way in all countries that recognize the holiday. In Canada, Thanksgiving takes place on the second Monday of October – this year, it was October 8th. Meanwhile, the holiday is celebrated on the first Thursday in Liberia. While the celebration was originally created to give thanks for the harvest, making the end of Autumn a logical choice for the date, the actual date of Thanksgiving has changed in the past. When it first became an official holiday in the U.S. in 1863, it was placed on the final Thursday of the month. However, in 1939, with the Great Depression taking place, president Franklin Roosevelt changed it to the fourth Thursday in order to give merchants more time to sell items for Christmas.
A major theme of Thanksgiving celebrations is, of course, the food, especially turkey. In 2015, 45 million turkeys were eaten on Thanksgiving in America by 276 million people. Traditionally, Thanksgiving turkeys are roasted or baked, then filled with stuffing made of bread and vegetables. However, they are far from the only staple of Thanksgiving meals. Other items typically on the table include corn, mashed potatoes with gravy, and sweet potatoes – and don’t forget pumpkin pie for dessert! These are complemented by whatever other specialties the hosts and guests can concoct. For instance, my family’s Thanksgivings were marked by my uncle’s famous hamballs.
Why Thanksgiving is important
More than everything else, Thanksgiving is about sharing food and talk with family and friends. For instance, my grandmother once thought my plate was the hamball plate when I passed it down to get mashed potatoes, and she took all my hamballs off of it. My family still talks about that event to this day.
Millions of people around the world will be spending today making memories, stuffing their mouths with food, and trying not to engage in political debates with their grandparents. Millions more will be headed home to decorate their house for Christmas, unaffected by overseas turkey-eaters. Either way, on this 22nd, it’s not a bad thing to keep in mind all the many things that you’re thankful for.