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What is Thanksgiving? A look at the US holiday and why Americans celebrate it

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By Euronews
What is Thanksgiving? A look at the US holiday and why Americans celebrate it

Held on the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving is a celebration stemming from the Harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims at Plymouth

According to legend, the holiday is intrinsically linked to Native Americans, who taught settlers how to grow corn and catch fish.

This has long been a source of tension, due to the treatment of Native Americans historically, and is especially so this year, due to the ongoing protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota

Thanksgiving is known as the “National Day of Mourning” for many Native American communities

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But Thanksgiving is also a season of charity. Americans are encouraged to give what they can to organisations like the Salvation Army and provide food for the homeless.

A traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of roast Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato with marshmallows, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweetcorn and pumpkin pie for dessert.

Since the 1920’s Thanksgiving has traditionally been the start of the ‘Winter holiday season’. It is also generally regarded as more important than Christmas, particularly in terms of spending time with family and friends.


Another major feature of Thanksgiving is the parades. In New York, the Macy’s Day Parade sees floats, balloons and oversized cartoon characters go down 6th Avenue. It ends at Macy’s flagship store and is televised nationally each year.

Black Friday

While not strictly held on Thanksgiving itself, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the US. Huge discounts are on offer, resulting in riot-like scenes as shoppers rush to grab the best deals.

Sporting events

Several sporting events are also held over the holiday period. In the NFL, games are played throughout the day on Thursday and across the weekend. In addition, there are also a number of big college football matches such as LSU at Texas A&M.

Television specials

Thanksgiving TV Specials are another important cultural event. While not as big as Christmas, the big television production companies go to great lengths to boost viewing figures.

Turkey pardoning

And finally, the President ‘pardons’ two Turkeys at the White House each year, making sure they live happily ever after. No word yet as to why and for what reason they are pardoned.