Sunday, November 23, 2014

What are you thankful for?

One of the most important days in a year is coming up: Thanksgiving Day. If you have been living in the US for a few years already, you are definitely used to it and you may well have become an expert at cooking a turkey.
However, I still would like to remember this feast in our expat lines and to let other girls know how and why it is so important in the US. Thanksgiving is an inseparable part of American culture and it has to be experienced, understood and shared even if you have never celebrated anything similar in your home country.

When did it all begin?
The tradition of the Thanksgiving feast traces back to the first half of the 17th century when Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. Pilgrims, after they settled in the New World, had no knowledge about how to treat the soil and what to plant in order to feed themselves. It was Native Americans who taught them and passed them their wisdom on the nature, local plants and soil. On the occasion of the first harvest in 1621, Pilgrim Fathers and Native Americans got together and gave their thanks for all the crops the nature donated them.
In the second half of the 17th century, thanksgiving after the harvest became more and more common. Although it was only in 1789 when George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day. It is held every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
Why is it so important?
It is a day when families get together, when children come back home from the other side of the country, when everything stops and closes also in the 24/7 America, but most importantly, it is a day when all Americans and not Americans share the same feast and pronounce their thanks. Christians or Jews, blacks or whites, Europeans or Americans, Thanksgiving Day does not discriminate anyone and make everyone feel a part of the American tradition.
How is it celebrated?
Eating! Families and friends sit together around one big table and enjoy the most typical Thanksgiving dish: a stuffed oven-cooked turkey. Turkeys are huge and therefore the cooking time is very very long. There are some more dishes that cannot miss on a Thanksgiving table such as gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, various side dishes and as a desert, a pumpkin pie or a peacan pie.
And not only a turkey!
On the Thanksgiving Day a famous Macy's Parade is held in New York, a must-see event in case you have no cooking plans and you can support low end-of-November temperatures. Besides, Philadelphia is also famous for its parade, taking place in the morning on the Thanksgiving Day and running along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Massive floats and balloons, choirs and special guests will amuse Philadelphians for 95th year already!
And not only a turkey and parades!
Less profound perk of the Thanksgiving period are the deals! Right after the Thanksgiving Thursday a Black Friday begins with its mega in-store and online discounts. Actually, you can take advantage of many special offers all week long, avoiding Friday crowds and shopping fever.
Thanksgiving can also be an excuse for a romantic getaway. If you work, you will be happy to enjoy a long holiday weekend and travel to discover some new corner of the US. If you stay in Philly, don't miss a Philadelphia parade or a traditional American Thanksgiving lunch with a turkey, a football match (which is as essential as a turkey. This year get ready for Eagles versus Cowboys!) and many thankful people around.
Don't forget!
Remember the real meaning of the Thanksgiving. Give thanks for what you have, for your loved ones and for all special moments the life is donating you. I think every country should have an extra day in which people stop to reflect and give their thanks.
We are curious about your Thanksgiving traditions. Have you ever done a turkey on your own? How has this feast become a part of your expat life and your new culture? Share your ideas with us and say tell us what you are thankful for.