Thanksgiving 2021: Pies, Parades, Presidential Pardons And The History Behind The Day

People in the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday.

In the US, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, which means that this year it falls on 25 November.

This is because Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a regular national day of thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November in 1863.

The tradition has remained the same ever since – with the brief exception of 1940 and 1941, when President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to move the celebration to the third Thursday of the month for commercial reasons.

What is the meaning of Thanksgiving

The origins of Thanksgiving can be traced back to September 1620, when a small ship called the Mayflower left its dock in England carrying 102 pilgrims seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith.

They were drawn to America, then called the New World, by the promise of prosperity and the opportunity to own their own land.

In 1621 these colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast that they had laboured together to produce – the first ever Thanksgiving celebration – in Plymouth, which is in modern-day Massachusetts.

It is said a Native American called Squanto was crucial to the survival of the pilgrims during their first year. He showed them how to grow corn, catch fish, avoid poisonous plants and extract sap from maple trees. He also helped them broker an alliance with the Wampanoag.

However, this was the only successful joining together of natives and colonists during this period, and many Native Americans believe Thanksgiving celebrations brush over a history which has often seen them persecuted and killed.

How is it celebrated?

Food is the central part of Thanksgiving. People normally eat turkey, which is either roasted in the oven or deep fried.

Other traditional dishes include mashed potato, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.

Turkey and cranberry sauce is a combination dating back to at least 1796, when it was mentioned in cookbook called American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons – the first cookbook by an American to be published in the United States.

A variety of vegetarian options have been developed – such as green bean casserole, a recipe created in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly to promote the Campbell Soup Company’s cream of mushroom soup. Mushroom Wellington and winter squash is another alternative.

Parades have become a big part of the holiday across the US. Among the largest in the country is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, which is held by the department store and attracts more than two million spectators every year – as well as a large television audience.

Another tradition sees the President “pardoning” a live Thanksgiving turkey every year by sending them to a farm to live out the rest of their days instead of being sent to the slaughter.

Since the 1970s, many Native Americans and protesters instead mark the holiday as a “National Day of Mourning” to commemorate those who lost their lives at the hands of the foreign settlers when America was colonised.

How does the Thanksgiving turkey pardon work?

Every year at Thanksgiving, the US president, using his constitutional power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States” pardons a Turkey (or two), and its life is spared.

According to the National Constitution Center, the first president to unofficially pardon a turkey was Abraham Lincoln, who instructed the White House to save a bird given to the president. Lincoln’s son was said to have had grown fond of the bird – and the president was an animal lover.

In 1963, John F. Kennedy then started a trend by publicly sparing a turkey given to the White Housefor dinner (it was wearing a sign that said “Good Eatin’ Mr. President.” Other presidents have followed suit – but it was George H W Bush who made the turkey pardon official, when he took office in 1989.

This year Joe Biden pardoned two turkeys, named Peanut Butter and Jelly. In a ceremony in the White House’s Rose Garden, he said: “Peanut Butter and Jelly were selected based on their temperament, appearance and, I suspect, vaccination status. Yes, instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted.”

Source : https://inews.co.uk/news/world/thanksgiving-2021-what-meaning-history-us-holiday-when-date-celebrations-1316679?ITO=msn

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