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Why Do Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Antonia R.Antonia R.

American traditions are relatively new in comparison to European and Asian ones which are based on their religious beliefs. Year after year, Americans continue to hold true to their customs.

One of the biggest holidays in the US after Independence Day, the 4th of July, is Thanksgiving which is celebrated every 4th Thursday in November.

Even though it's a November holiday now, sources indicate that it was first celebrated on December the 4th, 1621.

But why do they celebrate Thanksgiving?

It is thought that the tradition originated from the pilgrims - some of the first settlers in the New World, who wanted to express their thankfulness to God for the bountiful harvest by sharing their holiday feast with the indigenous population of the US - the Native Americans.

In those times, the 1st settlers could only guess as to the crop yield they would get from a land unfamiliar to them.

According to legends, the pilgrims were successful thanks to help from the Indians, who showed them how to work the American soil.

The year 1621 marked the 1st ever Thanksgiving but it became a US national holiday in 1863 under proclamation from Abraham Lincoln.

Stuffed turkey

It was in fact writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale who should be given most of the credit for establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday, as she had for years been sending letters to all the different US presidents.

Even though the holiday was originally of a religious nature, with time it became more of a secular event. Today, stuffed turkey and pumpkin pie are an essential part of the Thanksgiving meal, even though in the early years of the holiday the pie was quite simple, while the turkey was replaced by duck, goose or even a messenger pigeon.

Turkey is the traditional main course of the holiday feast but interestingly enough, no one knows exactly why this type of bird is linked to the tradition.

Even though they've been unable to find a logical explanation for this issue, Americans regularly eat turkey during the holiday - with the exception of the one symbolically pardoned by the US president every year.