Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a federal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. In 2014 it is on November 27th. Thanksgiving Day is an important traditional festival for families and friends to get together for a long weekend and special meal — even if some of them have to travel long distances. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Lobster and crab are also popular. According to tradition, the person who gets the ‘wishbone’ must break it and make a wish.
Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. The first settlers experienced great hardship, with many of them becoming ill and dead because of disease and starvation. Two Native Americans, Samoset and Squanto, gave the Pilgrims good advice on planting crops. The Pilgrims had a good harvest and the colony was saved. They invited the two Native Americans to a special meal but ninety came and they all had dinner together. Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. Each year a group of Native Americans and their supporters have been protesting for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. American Indian Heritage Day is also observed at this time of the year. However, other people claim the first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when the Pilgrims gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast. Later they became common. The first president of the United States, George Washington, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.
Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. Apart from the family meal, the Thanksgiving weekend is also time for sport, parades and shopping. There are American football matches on TV, as well as college ones around the country. Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day. Most offices, businesses, schools and other organizations are closed on Thanksgiving Day allowing staff to have a four-day weekend. The Friday of Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the busiest shopping day which marks the opening of the Christmas shopping season. It is called Black Friday, with most major retailers opening very early and offering lots of killer deals and stellar sales. However, there is the darker side of Black Friday. There have been reports of violence occurring between shoppers on Black Friday. More and more Americans are worried about ever increasing consumerism frenzy of people plotting shopping strategy for Black Friday while missing the true meaning of Thanksgiving to give thanks and spend time with your family. Thanksgiving Day is also one of the busiest periods for travel in the USA. This can cause traffic disruption, congestion and overcrowding. Thus, the Internet offers people a range of alternatives to Black Friday from art-inspired to active ones encouraging us to stay away from malls. Moreover, there is now Buy Nothing Day (BND), an international day of protest against consumerism, which highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of excessive shopping.
As the nation gathers to celebrate and give thanks with family and friends, all eyes turn to Manhattan and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, an annual pageant of giant balloons, floats, cheerleaders, clowns, marching bands, Broadway shows and celebs. The 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is broadcasted on NBC on Thursday, November 27 (starting 9:00 a.m. to noon in all time zones), with a live audience more than 3.5 million strong and a nationwide television gathering of more than 50 million viewers. More than 8,000 participants, some donning clown costumes, handling balloon giants or striking up the band, will set off down the streets of Manhattan at the sound of the time-honored catchphrase «Let’s Have a Parade.» The magic Parade’s famed lineup this year features 16 giant character balloons; 33 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 27 floats; 1,300 cheerleaders and dancers; 1,000 clowns; 12 marching bands; and a host of celebrity performers.
Watch the cut from the 2013 Macy’s Parade here, with the giant Turkey, lots of balloons and other symbols: