You may have heard about Thanksgiving in almost every American Television series, be it F.R.I.E.N.D.S or How I Met Your Mother or Brooklyn 9-9. And if you are not an American, you might have wondered what is all the fuss about Thanksgiving and why are the characters always looking forward to celebrating it. You might have also wondered if it is actually a rehearsal dinner for Christmas or not?!

We were pretty surprised when we learned that Thanksgiving is not merely any religious ritual and it is not all about food, but it is a deep and meaningful tradition that is simply heartwarming and lives up to its noble name.

Why do Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?

Americans and Canadians celebrate, Thanksgiving meaning their gratitude towards everyone who makes their lives better, especially to God. In North America, it is an annual tradition which is marked by religious observances, followed by a traditional meal. It is also a national holiday in North America which commemorates the festival of harvest of the previous year, celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers of 1621. 

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States of America on the fourth Thursday of November. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated early, usually on the second Monday of October.

Thanksgiving: a brief cultural history

According to American legends, the Thanksgiving history that the Americans believe revolve around the happenings of the year 1620 and 1621, when in September, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers.

These 102 passengers were an assortment of religious separatists who had been seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in a New World. 

thanksgiving feast

After the voyage of 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, way far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson.

A month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims (as they were commonly called), began to determine a village at Plymouth. The Pilgrims spent their first winter on the board of the ship as they battled against the freezing fall and suffered from contagious diseases like scurvy outbreaks. By the beginning of spring, only half of the Pilgrims lived. In March, they received an astonishing visit from an English-speaking Native American.

Several days and months later, a few Native Americans helped them teaching how to grow corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish for a livelihood, and avoid poisonous plants. They also helped the Pilgrims to ally with a local tribe, the Wampanoag. The Wampanoag, to date, tragically remains one of the sole alliances between European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, when the Pilgrims successfully harvested their first corn, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast, which is now remembered as the “first Thanksgiving” of America. It was celebrated in the presence of the Native American allies and the Wampanoag. The celebrations and festivity continued for three days.

When is Thanksgiving this year (2020)?

Thanksgiving is usually celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. This year, Thanksgiving 2020 in the United States of America will be celebrated on Thursday, 26th November.

What does Thanksgiving convey?

Thanksgiving conveys gratitude: gratitude towards God, family, friends, and everybody who has had an impact on your life, no matter how big or small. Thanksgiving Day is also the perfect time to remind oneself and others of the many reasons there are to be grateful for. 

It is especially necessary in 2020 when the world is shaken to its core by a year-long pandemic, but again at the same time, a nation has collectively risen against fascism and chose a woman of color alongside her male superior instead.

Now that it is not safe to hug your loved ones this year, here are a few Thanksgiving message ideas that you can send out to your loved ones and bring a smile to their faces:

  • Thanksgiving is quite food and festivity; it’s the time to ponder upon the teachings we learned and the way we will spread happiness around. It is the time of the year that gives us a moment to reminisce and remember the great memories and the good people who came into our lives and decided to hold on to us. Happy Thanksgiving Day, from mine to yours!
  • The last year has been a roller coaster ride, that has taken away hopes from us and reignited a few. It has been a year like no other; we, as people have stood up against racism, impeached a clown in the white-colored house, and eventually stood up for what is good for us and our countrymen. Thank you for doing what was necessary and we hope to continue what is right for the rest of our lives, Happy Thanksgiving!
  • We don’t credit The Almighty often, but this Thanksgiving, I’d like to express my gratitude towards God for blessing the universe with not only Timothée Chalamet but also you. Happy Thanksgiving Day, thank you for having my back always!

Thanksgiving food: A brief gastronomical affair

If you are an avid follower of American sitcoms, then you must remember Rachel’s famous ‘traditional’ English trifle for Thanksgiving or, the legen-wait for it-dary Turturkeykey that Ted cooked for his first Thanksgiving as a host. 

Well, a traditional Thanksgiving meal isn’t that amateur but is a table of classic comfort, that is ought to bring back good memories from childhood and the days of the past. 

Generally, members of a family gather together to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, or friends host a potluck dinner to share loads of Thanksgiving amongst each other.

Here are 10 delicacies, without which a Thanksgiving dinner is incomplete:

  • A perfectly juicy roasted turkey
  • Stuffing (that should be roasted alongside/ inside the whole turkey)
  • A side of creamy, buttery, garlicky mashed potatoes
  • A thick flavourful gravy made from the roasted turkey drippings
  • Homemade cranberry sauce for the right amount of sweetness, sourness, and tang
  • Corn (serve it as cornbread or grilled corn on the cob)
  • Casserole (It can be a vegetable one or overloaded with meat. The choice is yours and the ones you are celebrating with!)
  • Candied Yams
  • A pumpkin pie to comfort the crowd on a chilly fall evening
  • A pecan pie (this one works its way through the crowd!)

How should you celebrate Thanksgiving in 2020?

Who said you will have to be together to celebrate Thanksgiving? In this world of fast internet and video calls, celebrate the evening with your loved ones without stepping out or if you are in the same city, have a distant potluck, where you and your folks each cook up a delicacy and share a serving amongst each other through delivery apps. 

And, when the sun sets, you can turn up the heat of your respective homes and enjoy a virtual Thanksgiving together. 

Happy Thanksgiving from us to you!