Thanksgiving: Roots, Origins, and Celebrations Throughout The World
Imagine golden autumn, a hearty family gathering at the table, tons of tasty food, and a warm feeling that makes you forget about all hardships. No, it is not a scene from the movie. It merely is celebrating Thanksgiving – the holiday that has taken a special place in the hearts of so many.
Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. History of the holiday itself traces back its roots to the old times. The holiday has come to America from the other side of the Atlantic.
Furthermore, Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans had a tradition of feasting and paying tribute to gods after the fall harvest. Since then, a similar concept has traveled through time and reached our days in an altered way.
Wampanoag Indians and the Plymouth colonists celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621. The two peoples shared an autumn harvest that gave the beginning to the holiday. However, back then, it was not a national holiday until one day.
The famous magazine editor and writer Sarah Josepha Hale (who also happens to be the author of the famous nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national day. Thankfully, after putting so much effort, Sarah Hale finally got what she fought for. As a result, in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a national holiday.
Same as Halloween and many other holidays, Thanksgiving has traveled to different cultures and lands. Therefore, nowadays we can find it almost in all parts of the globe. Let’s take, for example, Canadian Thanksgiving. Unlike American Thanksgiving, the Canadian holiday is older by 43 years.
Because of the Revolutionary War, many American colonists who were still loyal to the British Crown moved to Canada and brought some traditions. Chinese celebrating Thanksgiving days trace back over 2,500 years. Therefore, there are some vivid distinctions when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner and other practices.
A South Korean holiday called Chuseok Day is similar to US Thanksgiving. All of the holidays above are family-oriented, while German Erntedankfest and Japanese Kinro Kansha No Hi are more labor- than family-oriented. According to all of the geographical and historical differences, celebrating Thanksgiving Day is about giving gratitude for people’s things.
Coming back to American Thanksgiving, one of the most critical components of the holiday is family. We all know that preparations take a lot of time, especially when kids are involved. In our today’s situation, things have become a little bit more complicated in terms of household.
It is difficult (and for some people impossible) to get help with preparations for the holiday. However, you can become your own Superman or Supergirl and make the process of preparing for the Thanksgiving Day celebration fun, more comfortable, and memorable.
Celebrating Thanksgiving With Your Kids
Today, a family reunion is a luxury that only a few of us can afford. Thanksgiving Day is supposed to be celebrated with nearest and dearest, but due to COVID-19, it is relatively impossible.
Therefore, use all the help you can get at home, make the process about fun, bonding with loved ones, and making memories rather than making things perfect. Here are some ideas on how to prepare and celebrate Thanksgiving with your kids.
What is Thanksgiving?
Children are curious and ask all sorts of questions to get the story right in their heads. They consider parents to be their own Wikipedia, which answers all “Why?”s and “How?”s that their brains can come up with.
First and foremost, explain to children the meaning of celebrating thanksgiving days. Regardless of age, children are capable of comprehending stories and the sense that they have. All you need to do is to arrange them in such a way that little ones could understand.
Tell children the story of the holiday, connecting it with its historical background. Mention the first Thanksgiving celebration that was held by Native Americans and Pilgrims, the meaning that stood behind it back then, and the one that the holiday has now.
Bonding time without the television
Because Thanksgiving is quite a big deal in the US, there are parades, football games, and many other programs broadcasted every year as a part of the tradition. However, if you can choose between spending quality time with family and watching TV, I suggest choosing the first option.
Talk to one another, talk about the holiday’s meaning to your kids, and involve them in a preparation process. You can kill two birds with one stone because you can get some help from little ones and spend time talking.
Over time, not only do we follow old traditions established by our ancestors, but they also create our own. Many families come up with traditions (on purpose or by accident) that travel through generations like a relic. Sit your children in front of you while you are cooking or give them a little task while telling stories of the days gone by.
These can be memories of your childhood, funny or even sad stories connected to celebrating Thanksgiving, etc. Whatever you choose to tell children, you teach them about history, past of the family, and history in general. To face the future, we need to know the past.
Furthermore, think of creating your family tradition! Why not? Give the beginning to a tradition that will root in your family and grow throughout the generations.
Leave the debates for tomorrow.
A perfect family is like a unicorn – everyone talks about, believes in its existence (history counts), but no one has ever seen. In the world of contrasts like ours, there can be no peace without a fight. We all are individuals with personal points of view and ideas.
Therefore, controversies and arguments are inevitable one way or another. HOWEVER, do not ever let arguments (whatever they are) ruin your family holiday.
Thanksgiving feast is a family-oriented celebration that is all about gratitude for what you have, love to one another, and the world itself. Most importantly, it is about letting go of your pride and principles for one day.
Besides, this is a tremendous impact on a child’s future. It is how the model of a happy and loving family appears in their heads. Kids see everything, and for this reason, make sure to show them the best and warmest side of the holiday you possibly can.
Personally, for me, love and food are practically synonyms. Indeed, people believe food to be the means to suffice your stomach and a ritual of bonding.
People grow closer when preparing meals together. Preparing and eating food predisposes people to share stories and feelings (if it is an in-depth conversation).
Therefore, you should involve children in this process. Whether they help you or hear you talking every step through, or merely helping you decorate the dishes – involve little ones.
It is essential they knew the stories behind the meals you prepare, for they are a part of the Native American Thanksgiving menu. Furthermore, this is how people come up with family recipes!
Thanksgiving Crafts and Decorations
My house is my fortress. Unfortunately, due to quarantine, it has gained a slightly negative connotation. Same walls, same furniture, same everything 24/7!
Somewhat tricky, isn’t it? Therefore, bring the holiday into your home. Decorate the house to give it the spirit of celebrating Thanksgiving.
Children love crafts and decorations, so use it! If a kid is old enough to be entrusted with scissors, let a little one create.
If you are worried, sit a child somewhere in the kitchen and keep an eye on what little one is doing. It will give you some “free” time to do whatever is it that you need to do (cooking, cleaning, etc.)
Have fun together
Perfection is a relative concept because everyone has his or her definition of it. Unfortunately, there is a common idea that celebrating means to prepare the tastiest Thanksgiving dinner and to look flawless and rested.
It is not how it works in real life. Because of the situation we are in today, it is difficult to get help from someone else. Besides, it is simply impossible to do this tremendous amount of work and look as fresh as the morning air.
To create your own “perfect” Thanksgiving, be fun- and family-oriented. Instead of trying to make everything look impeccable, have fun preparing things, and spending time with your family. Allow children to help you (even though they can mess some things up a little), tell stories, and laugh.
“I am thankful for…”
The very heart of Thanksgiving is to be thankful and show genuine gratitude. Say what you are grateful for and ask everyone at the table to do the same thing.
If you take a creative approach, you can think of a list that you can hang on the fridge or somewhere else, where you will write down all of the things that your family is grateful for. It will undoubtedly warm your heart and will make you appreciate each second with the people you love.
Sharing is Caring
Thanksgiving is not exclusively about expressing your gratitude and spending time with the family. Sharing is one more crucial aspect of the holiday. Unfortunately, not every one of us can enjoy these beautiful meals for specific reasons.
Therefore, find some time and recourses for sharing and donating. Develop a tradition to help those in need and make sure to involve children. It will help them understand the importance of helping people.
Furthermore, they will learn to cherish what they have more. We always say that the world is a cruel place. What we fail to mention is that the most significant half of cruelty comes from people themselves.
Therefore, let’s do good deeds and teach children to do the same so that one day we could say, “World is a happy place!”
Play Games and Watch Movies
After dinner, all you can do is sit and wait until tons of delicious food digests. You might as well play some games together.
It will help you relax get your mind off full stomach. You can play UNO, Jenga, Monopoly, or any other game you can think of.
After dinner, you can wash the dishes together and pack the leftovers, so that there is plenty of time in the evening to watch movies. “The Miracle on 34th Street” will be the perfect movie to watch with children. Spending time together in the evening is honestly the best way to end Thanksgiving Day.
Going back to the topic of COVID-19, it is relevant to mention that you need to invite some of your relatives to “sit” with you at the table. I mean making a video call to those family members who could not be there with you due to pandemics. Put a laptop or a phone next to you at the table and have a great time socializing with family.
American Thanksgiving Traditions
For decades people celebrate Thanksgiving preserving traditions and the meaning of the holiday. American Thanksgiving has gone a long way, and now it has a few things without which it does not feel like a real holiday. When telling children stories about the past and traditions, do not forget to mention and dwell on the following things:
The Turkey and Cranberry Sauce
Although I cannot imagine Thanksgiving without turkey, it was not always like that. In fact, from the very beginning, pilgrims and tribes did not have turkey on their feast.
Instead, they had venison and lobster. Scientists are not sure at what period in history, turkey has become the main attribute of Thanksgiving.
Cranberry sauce is a must-be trimming for turkey. Unlike turkey, cranberry sauce has been at Americans’ tables for at least a hundred years. Pilgrims and Native Americans used to pick them, but it is highly unlikely that they were at the first Thanksgiving.
Cranberry sauce or relish is made with sugar, and historical records prove that people started serving this sweet sauce around 1663.
Make a wish whenever you see a falling star, they say. This method is exceptionally uncertain because you can see a star falling once in a blue moon. No worries, there is another way to make a wish and even get a little reassurance that it might come true.
The wishbone is probably one of the most loved traditions. Of course, it is because you get to make a wish! It is something both children and adults look for.
The wishbone is a dried-out bone, which was previously taken from a turkey’s carcass. Two people grab a bone on each en and crack it apart. It is believed that the wish will be granted to a person that has a bigger piece.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and Football
Every year, since 1924, thousands of people gather together to witness the huge balloons and revelers, making their way in front of Macy’s department store in New York City. Children are eager to see floating Disney characters and Santa Clause, who will be appearing with his reindeer. Traditionally, Santa’s appearance symbolizes the official beginning of the Christmas season.
Football is Americans celebrating Thanksgiving as tradition as much as turkey and cranberry sauce are. From the day when Lions played the Chicago Bears, and the game has gained so much attention, NFL hosts the traditional Thanksgiving game every year.
People await these two exciting events every year. Unfortunately, floating balloons and football games seem like two events that will not take place this year due to the pandemic.
As sad as it sounds, we should take care of ourselves and the people around us. Therefore, you have an opportunity to turn off the TV and spend some time talking and bonding with one another.
Thanksgiving is probably the tastiest and kindest holiday of all known. We need to always remind ourselves about love, kindness, and family importance in the world like this.
Thanksgiving is the holiday that reminds us to put all differences aside and be thankful for what we have. Today the situation is acute and it urges us to rediscover our love to one another, stop taking loved ones for granted and enjoy every moment of our lives.
Celebrating traditional American Thanksgiving is family-oriented. Leave all worries behind and spend a day with your loved ones. Spending holidays with kids can be difficult, especially when they are small, but you can manage as long as you can keep them occupied.
Talk to your children, educate them about the holiday, involve them in the cooking process, tell exciting stories, and spend quality time together. It is how you can give them happy memories!
Please give them the insider’s look at how the dishes are prepared and served. In the future, kids will be grateful for these warm memories, and one day they will tell their children how grandma and grandpa celebrated Thanksgiving. Take good care of yourself and your family.
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