Thanksgiving, what it is and why it is celebrated on Thanksgiving Day in the USA

Thanksgiving Day, in English Thanksgiving Day, is one of the most popular holidays in North America. Dated back to the mid-seventeenth century, the anniversary today has lost much of its original Christian significance and has become an opportunity for American and Canadian families to come together and thank you for what you have. The holiday traditionally falls on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and the second Monday of October in Canada. This year in the USA it will be celebrated on November 25th and, as always, the popular stuffed turkey cannot be missing on the tables.

The Christian origins

According to tradition, Thanksgiving Day originated in 1621 in the city of Plymouth, Massachusetts at the behest of the Pilgrim Fathers. The first documents, however, date back to two years later, in 1623, when from various sources it appears that the governor of the colony founded in Plymouth, William Bradford, instituted a day in which all members of the community had to give thanks to God for all his blessings.

Party approved by Congress in 1941

The holiday became even better known when, in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the celebration of Thanksgiving. On that occasion, the anniversary began to take on a civic significance, stripping itself of its Christian origins. The definitive consecration of the Thanksgiving dates back to the middle of the last century, when President Franklin Roosevelt proposed its establishment, which was approved by Congress in 1941.

The controversy

Inaugurated by the colonizers, Thanksgiving has often been the subject of controversy over the centuries. In fact, the festival is not particularly popular with Native Americans and some minorities who – as he explains Newsweek – they associate it with the memory of the death of their ancestors. For this reason, in some groups, a day of mourning or “no-thanksgiving” has been established to oppose the official holiday.

The turkey

Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day should be celebrated with the family and possibly at home, not in a restaurant. Each family for the occasion prepares the classic stuffed turkey which is accompanied by sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy and pumpkin pie. The turkey, as Focus explains, is native to the American continent and was very common among the Aztecs who raised it. After the European conquest, the animal was brought to the Old Continent where it quickly took hold, so much so that centuries later when the Pilgrim Fathers of the Mayflower arrived in Massachusetts they brought it with them, starting its intensive consumption. Consumption that, over the years, has caused various controversies on the part of animal welfare associations.

The presidential grace of the turkeys

Thanksgiving is also celebrated at the White House, where the “ceremony of grace” took place in the late 1980s, meaning the president decides to save two turkeys. The first to decide not to cook the traditional turkey given to the president by the National Turkey Federation was John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963, then Ronald Reagan was the first to pardon the birds, giving birth to a tradition that the presidents then continued to follow. . Since 1989, one of the pardoned turkeys opens the parade on Disneyland’s Main Street, then both are moved to the Frontierland ranch in the park itself. Although only one turkey participates in the parade, two are pardoned in the event that one fails to make it to the parade alive. Since 2003, American citizens have been able to choose the name of the turkeys by voting on the White House website: after the first poll they were baptized Stars and Stripes (Stars and Stripes), in the following years Biscuit and Gravy (2004), Marshmallow and Yam (2005), Flyer and Fryer (2006), May and Flower (2007), Pumpkin and Pecan (2008), Courage and Carolina (2009), Apple and Cider (2010), Cobbler and Gobbler (2012), Popcorn and Caramel (2013), Mac and Cheese (2014), Honest and Abe (2015), Tater and Tot (2016), Drumstick and Wishbone (2017), Peas and Carrots (2018), Bread and Butter (2019), Corn and Cob (2020), Peanut Butter and Jelly (2021).