Thanksgiving, doesn’t really mean much to the first generation Indians residing in the United States. Some may even wonder about the hue and cry around this American holiday, after all it sounds more like a remark or an expression and less like a festival. But actually Thanksgiving is a tradition that has a history bursting with trivia and stories. Besides, it is that exclusive day in our lives when we acknowledge God’s bountiful blessings, join together as a family and become less of ‘I’ and more of ‘Us’.
Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States (on fourth Thursday of November) and Canada (on second Monday of October). It would be, in a way, incorrect to say that only these two nations celebrate Thanksgiving. Since it is a harvest related festival, countries like China, Japan, Malaysia, Argentina and others also celebrate with different names and at different times of the year. Our India too has an avalanche of harvest festivals like Pongal, Baisakhi, Bihu, Lohri, Onam, Gudi Padwa, Sankranti etc.
There are many stories, myths and facts connected to the origin of Thanksgiving. Some say when Europeans first landed in America, they offered thanks to God for their safe voyage, and that’s when it all started from. But according to most historians, Thanksgiving began as a tradition, in the United States, in the year 1621 at Plymouth (now called Massachusetts) to celebrate the harvest of the year. That particular Thanksgiving had a grand feast that lasted for three days and which provided food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans! That’s why food plays an important role in the modern times Thanksgiving celebration.
Thanksgiving feast is huge. Cooking is elaborate and the dining table is laden with plethora of mouth-watering dishes. Meals are often prepared at home with Turkey as the main highlight, and it is served along with green beans casseroles, yams, mashed potato, bread, pumpkin pie, fruits, squash, cranberry sauce, corn, candies, pickles, and what not. There is a lot of effort behind cooking all of that but the real fun is in enjoying that feast together. Thanksgiving is a unique holiday when people run home to be with their family rather than vacationing in exotic locales!
Parade is an important event of every Thanksgiving Day and it is held in various places, all across the United States. The tradition started as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924 in New York City and has been carried forward since then in many other cities. Apart from Parade, professional football games are also played on Thanksgiving Day and the following weekend. The day after Thanksgiving also requires special mention. Oh yes! Popularly known as Black Friday in United States, it is the busiest shopping day of the year because of the sales and discounts everywhere. People shop till they literally drop making the retailers profitable or ‘in the black.’
Food, football, parade and shopping may have become the main focus of modern times Thanksgiving but what started it all was that ‘giving of thanks’. ‘Thank you’ is such a pure and heartfelt expression, isn’t it? This Thanksgiving let’s re-look into our lives and make a note of all those things we are happy to have. We are otherwise extremely busy to even notice and realize how much God has given us!
So, what do you have in your thank-you list?