Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on the 4th Thursday in November each year. For many Americans, Thanksgiving is the most important holiday apart from Christmas. On this day, all family members gather around the table and enjoy delicious food together and say the things they are grateful for. But what is the purpose of Thanksgiving? In this article, let’s learn a little bit about the history and main purpose of Thanksgiving.
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What is the purpose of Thanksgiving?
What is the purpose of Thanksgiving? Let’s go back a bit to the past! Thanksgiving is rooted as a harvest festival. Since 1789, Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a national holiday but then George Washington declared Thanksgiving as a Federal holiday in 1864. In addition, President Abraham Lincoln had previously declared the holiday as “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.
The first Thanksgiving is believed to have been celebrated by pilgrims after the first harvest in the New World in October 1621. The celebration featured a large party that lasted for 3 days, and according to Edward Winslow, the celebration was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 pilgrims.
The main purpose behind celebrating Thanksgiving is to give thanks for the blessings that the pilgrims have received and to organize parties to celebrate the harvest. Everyone needs to follow the practice of gratitude, giving, and sharing with the less fortunate. Not everyone is lucky enough to have adequate shelter, clothing and food.
How did the first Thanksgiving happen?
Thanksgiving is linked with the time when Europeans first arrived in North America. In 1620, the ship Mayflowers arrived, carrying about 150 people who are now commonly known as the Pilgrims. They came at the beginning of winter so had a very hard time and couldn’t find enough to eat, so many of them died.
Luckily, the following summer, the kind Native Americans showed them foods that were safe to eat and taught them how to grow certain crops, so they could store food for next winter. They then threw a big party and invited the Native Americans to thank God and for the fact that they survived.
So, what is the purpose of Thanksgiving today?
Well, today, people celebrate Thanksgiving so that family members can gather together and be grateful for the things in their lives – about harvest, family, friends, work, health, for basically anything. It is supposed to be a fun time for people to come together.
Thanksgiving can be a secular holiday or a religious holiday. It has its own traditions (eating turkeys and cranberries) and myths (settlers happily shared food with natives, who happily shared their land, and so on).
It doesn’t have a big impact on our culture, as it’s not as commercialized as other holidays. However, it is one of the most important American vacations, as it includes everyone. And everyone loves a good party. For many families, this is the only time of year when they all get together at the same time, as people tend to move around the country.
Thanksgiving Day Traditions
Thanksgiving is one of the oldest holidays in the United States and it holds a special place in everyone’s heart. It also has a lot of traditions that Americans still follow from time immemorial to this day. Some follow old traditions and some invent their own customs. Here are some general traditions of the festival.
Traveling to meet family
In many families, most members work away from home or in another state or another country. So they will spend these holidays traveling and meeting their loved ones. Thus, this makes it one of the traditions of thanksgiving. They travel by car, train or plane. It can be said that Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year.
Giving and Sharing
What is the purpose of Thanksgiving? It’s giving and sharing, so many people take advantage of this day to help the poor and less fortunate. Some choose to volunteer to go to homeless shelters and serve food, while others directly donate accommodation or support money and food. Some even give canned goods to the homeless in canning boxes. This tradition is really good and should be kept.
Some families have a tradition of breaking the wishbone. Wishbones are found in the breast meat in the turkey’s chest. Like the meat has been removed and just eaten. The bone becomes dry and brittle then two family members will hold one end on each side of the bone and pull. It is broken by pulling and whichever family member gets a larger piece of bone will receive a wish.
Turkey is the main dish on Thanksgiving. However, today some families have their own choices. Many families replace turkey dinners with vegetarian dinners. Some families serve vegetarian turkey made with tofu. Others who are actually vegetarians decide to celebrate this holiday with fruits, salads, squash, and other vegetables.
The Turkey Pardon
Each year, the President of the United States of America receives a raw turkey and a replacement turkey in case anything happens to the original turkey. Then the President pardoned the turkey and all the other turkeys so they could spend the rest of their lives on a farm.
Other Thanksgiving Traditions
In addition, on Thanksgiving, there are many special programs and sporting events. In New York, there’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when a long line of fancy-dressed people parades through the streets with huge balloons featuring classic cartoon characters. Black Friday is right after Thanksgiving and is considered the start of the shopping season and many people go Christmas gift shopping on this day.
To Sum it Up
Thanksgiving has a lot of rich history but the main purpose of this holiday is to be with family and friends and give thanks for what you have been blessed with. Although different families may have different traditions and customs, the spirit with which they celebrate this holiday never changes.
Finally, wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!