Thanksgiving Day always marks our calendars on the 4th Thursday of November and the 24th of November this year. It is a national holiday dedicated to celebrating the harvest and all the blessings in one’s life. As one of the biggest holidays celebrated in America, this special day is filled with lovely traditions. It is a date many people look forward to for family gatherings and fun activities.
As Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching, let’s take a brief look into its history and the unique events and customs it brings into our lives. If you are grateful to have a day for family, friends, and fancy parades, there is so much to know about this day and how you can make it a special one this year!
History of Thanksgiving Day
This quintessentially American holiday has a long history behind it. Believed to have originated in 1621, the holiday marks the harvest festivities Plymouth colonists and Native Americans, the Wampanoag in specific, held together.
The Wampanoag, a sophisticated community of people who were familiar with the land of America since they inhabited it for centuries before the arrival of colonists, played a major role in the creation of this day. Thanks to their guidance, the pilgrims became accustomed to the nature of America and managed to have their first harvest. Their survival and the many meals that filled their dinner plates on the first Thanksgiving Day would not have been possible without this alliance.
While this diplomatic alliance and difficult attempts at harmony are often portrayed through an optimistic lens, it is important to acknowledge the colonial history and the fact that this peace was short-lived due to settlers’ aggression towards Native Americans.
Even though the holiday was celebrated among people, It wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving became an official national holiday. Sarah Joseph Hale, a famous periodical author, petitioned for it to become an official holiday for years, and during the Civil War era, Abraham Lincoln declared it so.
Thanksgiving Day Traditions
Since its first emergence and nationalization, Thanksgiving came to represent many different things and transformed into a day of gratitude on a personal level. There is a large array of traditions one can observe on Thanksgiving Day.
- Turkey is one of the most prominent images associated with Thanksgiving. Family dinners are expected to be crowned with a big turkey in the middle. The reason why turkey is the iconic thanksgiving meal is that it was pretty common in North America.
- Gatherings of family and friends are integral to many holidays, especially Thanksgiving. As a day of gratitude, loved ones are often the most important thing people are grateful for. You can be the guest or the host; either way, it is one of the biggest blessings in life and a great opportunity to recognize this blessing.
- Watching the parade has been an inseparable part of the day since the early 20th century. What started as a celebration in the streets is now televised, and it is how almost every family in America starts their special day.
- Wishbones are an after-dinner tradition. Once the turkey is eaten, the wishbone is separated and left to dry. The dry bone is given to two people who make wishes. Whoever gets the longer side when they break the bone is believed to have their wish come true!
- Pumpkin or apple pies are also traditional pieces of the Thanksgiving Day meal. Since they are also the symbols of autumn, they are perfect additions to the cozy atmosphere of the day.
- Black Friday isn’t exactly a Thanksgiving tradition, but since it follows right after it, you should be prepared for it to catch the insane discounts.
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Meals and Sides
Thanksgiving dinner is the most anticipated meal of the year. If you are hosting your first Thanksgiving meal, make sure to include the following on your dinner menu for the ultimate experience.
- Mashed Potatoes
- Cranberry Sauce
- Pumpkin Pie
- Apple Pie
9 Ideas How to Make Your Thanksgiving Day Special
There are many ways you can do to make your Thanksgiving Day a special one this year.
- Host your own dinner. If you have always been the guest till now, take on the responsibility this year and cook a meal for your loved ones. It may be tiring, but it will prove very rewarding once everyone you feel grateful to have in your life is gathered around the same table.
- Volunteering is a great way to get into the Thanksgiving Day spirit. It is all about counting your blessings; giving back is a great way to do that. Many local shelters work hard to deliver a hot meal to the less fortunate on this beautiful day. Join them to make a difference.
- Arts and crafts can be a fun way to make keepsakes and introduce this day to your children. There are online tutorials about making turkey-shaped items out of paper and similar materials. You can do this activity together and even decorate your house with what you have made.
- A fall wreath for your door can be a great way to greet your guests on Thanksgiving Day. You can buy one or make one yourself. Since it is fall themed, you can keep it throughout the season.
- Make a list of all you are grateful for and share it with your friends. People can often get lost in the holiday festivities and forget the true meaning of it. Keep it in perspective and count your blessings. You can go around the table at dinner, and everyone can share what they are grateful for this year. It is the perfect conversation opener for Thanksgiving Day.
- Visit a corn maze and get lost! These mazes are incredibly big and fun. If you have one nearby, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity.
- Go out for your Thanksgiving meal. While it may feel counter-intuitive, many establishments offer big Thanksgiving meals, which can be an enjoyable way of spending the day. If it is tiring to cook all those foods, take a break this year and go to a nice restaurant.
- Join a Thanksgiving Parade or go and enjoy watching!
- Keep the leftovers and prepare sandwiches for the upcoming days. It is a nice way to carry the holiday spirit into your daily life. Not to mention the great lunches you’ll have for a while.
Thanksgiving Day Ideas for Restaurants
If you own a restaurant and wish to do something special for Thanksgiving day, you can consider the following ideas.
- Offer fully prepared Thanksgiving Day dinners. Most families don’t have the time to cook such big meals, and they might want to treat themselves on this beautiful occasion. By creating a Thanksgiving menu, you can get many customers and create lasting memories for them in your establishment.
- You can renew your restaurant equipment or add some items to prepare various Thanksgiving menus. You may benefit from discounts and available financing options that are settled for this special season and Black Friday.
- Decorate your business according to the Thanksgiving spirit. More than turkeys and pumpkins, Thanksgiving is closely associated with autumn. Embrace this theme and create a cozy environment for your customers. Plus, these decorations can last you till winter.
- Donate the leftovers to charities and commit to preventing waste for the rest of the year. This national holiday is an opportunity to remember our blessings and look out for those less fortunate than us.
- Make a list of what you are grateful for as a business and hang it on a wall. If you have space, you can leave room for people to contribute and allow them to add their sentiments to your board. It can create a warm atmosphere and encourage people to think about the day.
- Hand out thank you cards to your customers. After all, a business should be most grateful for its customers. Showing appreciation for those who help sustain your business can turn them into regulars at your place.
Thanksgiving Day is an important holiday for the people of America. Whether it be the historical significance or the customs that bring people together, it is a cause for celebration. Count your blessings and prepare for Thanksgiving Day 2022 on the 24th of November. There is much to be thankful for and a lot to cook. Happy Thanksgiving and Bon appetite!