Auto Europe takes you to the other side of the ocean for a long weekend: Thanksgiving! Celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November, it is above all a wonderful family celebration. Discover in this blog the origins of this great traditional holiday, beloved like no other in the United States. Interesting fact: Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, but on a different date (1st Monday of October).
The origins of Thanksgiving
In 1621, 50 European settlers almost died of hunger, so the native Wampanoag Indians decided to share a meal with them. They also gave them seeds, taught them how to grow the plants and how to fish. The tradition was kept throughout centuries, and Abraham Lincoln declared the National Thanksgiving Day in 1863.
Today, this is a secular holiday, a long holiday weekend for all Americans, who also take the opportunity to travel and meet their families. In fact, over 42 million trips are made in the United States during the holiday. It’s an event decorated in the colors of autumn, with unique flavours and spices.
The traditional Thanksgiving meal
Everyone knows the traditional stuffed turkey is served on Thanksgiving, but did you know that there are other side dishes just as important?
Ideally, the main dish will consist of a stuffed turkey (averaging 15 pounds!) served with cranberry gravy or jelly, sweet potatoes, green beans or grilled corn on the cob. These are unavoidable classics, but each family has its own special dish. Back in the 1600’s, however, pilgrims used a different menu for the feast, mostly deer, ducks, lobster, eel, fish, nuts, squash and potatoes.
Did you know? There is one and only one “Y” shaped bone in the turkey, called the Wishbone. Tradition has it that two Thanksgiving participants each hold one end of the bone and they snap at the same time. Whoever ends up with the longest piece in hands, will have his wish fulfilled!
For dessert, the answer is pie!
You can choose between apple pie or apple crumble, pecan pie or pumpkin pie. Perhaps add a scoop of ice cream on top of the slice. This meal requires long hours of preparation, often the way to enjoy family time.
The Cornucopia is one of the most famous symbols in the Thanksgiving season. It is shaped like a horn and filled with pumpkins and other harvest vegetables as a symbol of abundance.
Activities on Thanksgiving Day
This massive holiday is accompanied with several traditions Did you know that around this time of the year, 50 million turkeys are consumed in America alone? This is why the President of the United States pardons a turkey in person each year. The turkeys are brought to the White House for Thanksgiving, then the president graciously hands out these turkeys, that go on to live at a peaceful farm. Abraham Lincoln is responsible for the origins of this custom.
Another favorite American activity on Thanksgiving Day is Macy’s parade in New York. Whether you watch it in the streets or on the television, this parade is incredibly fun, and has been delighting children and grown-ups since 1924. Back then, 400 employees were responsible for this magical entertainment, with even the animals of Central Park Zoo participating in the parade. Nowadays, the parade of 2.65 miles consists of giant iconic balloons, fanfares, cheerleaders, marching bands, clowns, etc.
For sports fans, the football team Detroit Lions play a match on Thanksgiving Day every year. For some, it’s a tradition to watch this game as a family in the living room, but, for others, it’s a tradition to go to the stadium and cheer in person. Americans also take the opportunity on Thanksgiving to donate their time or money to the poor. Some go to homes to distribute meals, while others volunteer at soup kitchens or distribute money in the streets.
The next day, another eventful tradition takes place – Black Friday. This is THE day to splurge and start the Christmas shopping, as multiple stores offer very attractive discounts and promotions.
Following Black Friday, of course, Cyber Monday takes place. This day caters to those who prefer online shopping. Big sales and great discounts can be found on the Internet.
Would you like to celebrate the quintessential national holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States? Check our car rental offers at the best price! Happy Thanksgiving!