Updated: Jan 11
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday of November each year. Thanksgiving was first celebrated when the first European settlers arrived in New England. The traditional story often told to children is that when these settlers arrived they were struggling to survive. The Native Americans living in New England helped them and the two feasted together in thanks. Historians often debate this story saying the reality is actually much different and the European settlers were actually celebrating the victory of a battle against these Native Americans. Despite the controversial origins, Thanksgiving is generally a day of gratitude and to be thankful for all we have. This often includes a large gathering of Family to feast during Thanksgiving dinner. Read more to find out more about this American holiday as celebrated by student blogger Katie Overby!
What's on the Menu?
One of the biggest parts of Thanksgiving is the dinner. Here are just a few of the most
common Thanksgiving dishes.
Macaroni and cheese
Macaroni and cheese is cooked noodles mixed and topped with various types of
cheeses. It is then placed in the oven and baked until the top is crispy. Some families may even mix breadcrumbs or meat in the dish.
Mashed potatoes are made by boiling and mashing potatoes to make a soft consistency and mixing them with various seasonings such as salt and pepper. Mashed potatoes are often topped with gravy, a sauce made of meat stock. Other families may instead make sweet potatoes, which are often topped with less savory ingredients such as brown
sugar or marshmallows.
A casserole is any type of dish baked in the oven in a large pan. One of the most famous types of casserole eaten during Thanksgiving is green bean casserole. Green Bean casseroles combine most often green beans, onions, and cream of mushroom soup baked together.
Stuffing is made of breadcrumbs and herbs cooked together. It is called stuffing because traditionally it would be used to stuff the turkey, however, this method is no longer commonly used because of the potential of food-borne illnesses. Now stuffing is often cooked separately and served on the side to prevent this.
Cranberry sauce is a jelly or jam consistency made of cranberries boiled in sugar water.
Some Americans, make their own cranberry sauce, but it is also common to buy it from
the store pre-made.
Turkey is the main course of a Thanksgiving meal and turkeys are often seen as a ‘mascot’ or symbol of Thanksgiving. Typically, it is baked but often where I am from people will fry the turkey. One tradition Americans have is once they find the chest bone, known as the wishbone, two people will split the bone in half and whoever has the larger piece will be granted a wish.
For dessert, most often pie is eaten. Pumpkin pie is probably the most popular type because pumpkin is the traditional fall-time fruit. A pie is made of the crust, which is bread-like and made most often with flour, as well as a fruit filling. In the case of pumpkin pie, it is softened pumpkin mixed with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with whipped cream.
More Thanksgiving Celebrations
One of the more recent traditions of Thanksgiving is called Friendsgiving, where friend groups will gather to bring their favorite dishes. This is often common amongst the younger generations, who may be far from home and unable to celebrate traditionally with their family.
Another tradition around Thanksgiving is Black Friday. This is always the day after Thanksgiving, where many stores have big sales on everything from clothing to electronics. Some people will even camp outside the store on Thanksgiving evening in order to be first in line for the sales the next day. Black Friday is when many Americans will buy their Christmas gifts for friends and family
Football is another huge aspect of Thanksgiving. Many footballs games, both professional and college level, are played on Thanksgiving and the days following. Because most Americans have the day off, many people can tune in via TV or go to live games.
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
Finally, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is a huge attraction. Large floats, marching bands, and balloons make their way through the streets of New York City attracting large numbers of viewers both in person and on television.