I’ve taken to marking Thanksgiving Day each year, and even though some of you may recall previous posts I thought it worth doing so again.
Even from 3,000 miles away it hasn’t escaped our notice that today is Thanksgiving Day. I watch a lot of American TV shows, many of which – like NCIS – have Thanksgiving specials, and until the past few years I’d always thought of Thanksgiving Day as being something celebrated only in the USA. I was a little surprised, therefore, to find both that is celebrated in several countries and that its roots actually go back to post-Reformation England, no doubt prompted by the Pilgrim Fathers’ journey across the pond on the Mayflower. This is in no way to deny the day its American roots, though – it seems that celebrations have taken place in some places there since the late 16th century. I’ll admit to having to consult Google and Wikipedia for that!
Basically, the day is to give thanks for a good harvest, before the onset of winter. In the UK this is very much a church thing, with Harvest Festival services in late September, but these have not developed into a fully blown day of celebration – we in the UK are really deprived when it comes to public holidays! It was first set in statute in the USA by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and has been celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November since President Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress to that effect, in 1941. It is a major holiday in the US, not just the commercial aspects but as a day of family celebration.
Turkey is the traditional meal for Thanksgiving Day, as you can see from the table set here. There are parades, NFL games and a host of other celebrations too, and the day marks the start of a long weekend break, as well as being the unofficial start of the Christmas season. A couple of days ago there was the weird (to non-Americans) spectacle of the Presidential pardon for turkeys. I’ve never understood what turkeys can have done that would be so bad as to require that level of pardon, so maybe an American reader can enlighten me please? I just hope that this year’s recipients of the pardon don’t subsequently turn out to have links to Russia, or to have been making phone calls to the Ukraine.
I read in the paper the other day that one of those surveys we often hear about had concluded that one in six would be celebrating the day here in the UK. Does that mean there are 10m Americans living here or are we Brits succumbing to yet another US import? Sorry, guys, I’m afraid it isn’t a tradition that I’ll be adopting, but I hope you all enjoy your big day. Here’s a beautiful, special something from me, for you, as you celebrate: