Every autumn, Canadian and American families gather for a day centred around community, food and giving thanks – the day of Thanksgiving. Where did this holiday come from and how is it celebrated today?

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The history of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving combines the traditions of different groups of people. Travellers and migrants brought different religious traditions from Europe to the United States and Canada. Several celebrations are claimed as the first Thanksgiving. The best known is the celebration held by the pilgrims in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts after their journey across the Atlantic Ocean on the famous Mayflower ship. Like the pilgrims, many groups held days of prayer, fasting or feasting to give thanks for successfully making the long boat journey. Later, settlers celebrated their successful harvest in a new land by holding feasts with their Native American neighbours. Over time, the Canadian and American traditions have become similar and developed into the modern holiday of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving today

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. In the United States, it is on the fourth Thursday in November. Although its origins are religious, today, Thanksgiving is a largely secular holiday. For most Americans and Canadians, it is a day for coming together with family and friends to share a large meal. It is an occasion to spend time with loved ones and express gratitude for the year that has passed. In many households there is a tradition of everyone seated at the table sharing what they are most grateful for.

Thanksgiving food

Thanksgiving is also about food. Thanksgiving dinner traditionally includes roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and, for dessert, apple, pumpkin or pecan pies. Every family has its own recipes, sometimes secret recipes handed down through generations. Turkey, a bird native to North America, is the unofficial mascot of Thanksgiving, with roast turkey on the menu and turkey decorations on the wall. In the United States, a tradition of gifting turkeys to the President has more recently evolved into a humorous turkey ‘pardoning’. At this light-hearted ceremony, the President issues an official pardon for one or two turkeys, saving them from being cooked for supper.

More than food: football, parades and traffic jams!

Beyond food and gratitude, there are some unexpected sides to the American and Canadian holiday. One of these is football. This popular sport is an important part of the holiday, when families gather around to cheer on local or national teams. American football and Canadian football are both similar to rugby, played primarily not with the feet but with the hands.

Parades are another common part of the festivities. In the United States, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in New York City on the morning of Thanksgiving. It’s one of the world’s largest parades and is broadcast nationwide. A similar Thanksgiving parade happens in Canada as part of the Kitchener–Waterloo Oktoberfest, a multi-day autumn festival.

Unfortunately, heavy traffic is also common at Thanksgiving. In both countries, the week of Thanksgiving is one of the most popular travel times of the year, as everyone heads home to visit their extended family. So try to avoid any road trips if you’re visiting North America during this holiday!

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In Georgia New Year is the only day celebrated by everyone who live there,there are many ethnic groups who have different relegions and different religious days to celebrate but new year is common day.Traditionaly Georgian's preparation is begins one week earlier,we prepare traditional foods such as: Gozinaki,churchxela,xachapuri,kubdari,sacivi,roasted piglet,roasted torkey.We also make many European salads,cakes and other dishes.On 31 December's night family members gather together around the table, drink,eat,make wishes for the next year,listen our orthodox patriarch's congratulatory epistole.This Day is considered as a simbole of new life...

In Russia, we celebrate The New Year at night between 31th December and 1st January. Family gathers to spend this night together and have a feast.
Of course, different families have different traditions of celebration, but the most common dishes are tangerines, Russian salad (we call it Olivie), dressed herring, sandwiches with caviar or red fish and meat jelly. We eat, listen to music (the same singers every year), dance, listen to the President's congratulatory speech (the same President every year :) ), go out to see salutes and then go back home to open gifts which were laying under the Christmas tree.
After the New Year, we have a week of public vacation. And then, 7th January is an Orthodox Christmas, it's the New Year 2.0!

In our country people is mostly Catholic, the families gather to have a feast on Christmas on the 25th of December. In this feast families give away objects and sing popular songs from Christmas.

In Bangladesh, we celebrate "Pohela Baishakh" the first day of Bangla New Year. In this day, most of the people gathered in different places in different territories where the people enjoy themselves and take different kinds of food mostly "Panta Vat ( wet rice) and Hilsha fish - the traditional food. All the people form all kinds of religion observes this day.

Probably it is a New Year! I very like this celebration)))

In Spain we celebrate the Christmas Day at 25 December. It's a religious day, ask you now. The family gather for a big meal, and celebrate that Jesus was born. Actually is a secular fest, but only very believing people celebrates it at before. In Barcelona, my city, we usually eat a galets soup (galtes is a soup past) and roast chicken with plums, and for dessert, nougat. Ah! and catalan Cava (champagne)!

I like the tv shows specials about Thanksgivenday, it looks like a time to be with your family and share a wonderful feast with them.