Thanksgiving is a day celebrated in the United States every year. The tradition of thanksgiving celebrations in the United States can be traced back to the year 1863. Important to note, is that Thanksgiving Day is a public holiday in the United States that is celebrated every year in the month of November, (usually the fourth week of that month) (Karter 36). This holiday is celebrated with a lot of merry making and communal thanksgiving as it is a day set aside for purposes of showing gratitude for all the great things that life has given to a person for example family as well as friends. In an argument advanced by Bradford, children should be enlightened on the importance of thanksgiving so that it can be easy to preserve and pass the tradition to the present and future generation (144). Even though thanksgiving is often referred to as the harvest festival, there is more to the issue of this celebration in the United States than what the name seems to suggest.
Thanksgiving was a creation of pilgrims. These were religious individuals who were running away from persecution in England were referred to as pilgrims. Initially, these pilgrims went to settle in the Netherlands, but later, they went to North America for purposes of setting up a colony. According to Miller, most of the pilgrims arrived in North America in the year 1620 at a time when the autumn season was welcoming winter season (23). Unfortunately, a big number of these pilgrims died in North America due to the cold weather they encountered. The pilgrims began to engage in farming activities during the spring season. In their short stay in North America, the native Indians assisted the pilgrims in terms of guiding them on how to do farming and also how to cook. By the end of the summer season, the pilgrims managed to get a bumper harvest and as such, they were able to store enough food to last them through the winter season (Hodgson 27). Following the good harvest, the pilgrims resolved to organize a festival for purposes of showing their gratitude to God for the good harvest.
In the existence of mankind, the greatest happiness emanate from contentment of than individual. As such, it is always prudent for an individual to show his or her gratitude especially to those who in one way or another enabled a person to achieve what they have. Needless to say, the foregoing principle forms the basis of thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. During thanksgiving people celebrate and honor those who forfeited their own interests for the sake of others. The sacrifice made by the native Indian Americans is therefore celebrated and honored during the celebration of thanksgiving. The United States is where it is in the present day because these individuals sacrificed their land and gave up their culture for the greater interest of the nation.
Appreciating people is a simple and yet very powerful way of encouraging such individuals and others to continue making more sacrifices and doing what’s best for the sake of others. What’s more, appreciating others through thanksgiving sends a clear and loud message that the sacrifice made is recognized by the person it was meant for and it was satisfactory. After all, the phrase thank you is cited as a virtual that is above all other virtues in the universe (Weaver & Gollust 37).
Unlike in the traditional connotation of thanksgiving, where was meant to the appreciation of a good harvest to God, the festival is today celebrate across different countries and races all over the world. This day is used by some families, well wishers, and churches to visit the less fortunate and share with them what they have in plenty. This gesture assures the less fortunate that there are people of good will out there who care about them. Some of the significance of thanksgiving include: family bonding, sharing and cooking meals, festive traditions as well as family values, meaning of life, and above all a thanking day.
Significance of Thanksgiving
One of the most important aims of thanksgiving festival is to create family bonding. During the celebrations family members come together and strengthen their relationship as a family. Children are taught the values and traditions of the family as well as to respect the elders in the family and the society. The concept of unity is emphasized during thanksgiving. Family members, who do not stay around travel long distances to reunite with other members for purposes of enjoying the reunion of the family, this reunion is cemented by sharing delicious foods, praying together, singing and other fun activities.
Thanksgiving is also a time where family members friends and relative sharing and cooking meals at home. This is unlike other celebrations where packed foods are usually served. Some of the traditional dishes prepared during thanksgiving celebrations include: sweet potatoes, corns, pie made out of pumpkin, cranberries, carved turkeys, to mention but a few. Generally, thanksgiving is regarded as a period that spices up the holiday mood before Christmas. It goes without saying that during thanksgiving, food stores register higher sales than in any other period of the year. This may be attributed to the fact that most people buy foodstuffs for purposes of giving them to others, whom they care about or those people they appreciate.
In addition, thanksgiving presents an opportunity for people to do charity and participate in religious ceremonies. Families, friends, and colleagues come together to sing songs and make prayers of thanksgiving to God. “Prayer of Thanksgiving” is one of the songs that are commonly sung during thanksgiving celebrations (Bradford 145). Some Americans make contributions during thanksgiving and give such contributions to the less fortunate individuals in the society. The poor, homeless, and the less fortunate members of the society are provided with clothes and food by some churches and well wishers.
In an argument advanced by Morrill, (22) and supported by Weaver & Gollust, thanksgiving is also an opportunity to show appreciation which is often done by give the family members and friends some presents (43). This day is used by most people in the United States to show their respect and appreciation to their colleagues at work, friends, elders, as wells as siblings. Some of the common presents given out during the Thanksgiving Day include: Jewellery, thanksgiving flowers, wine, and cookies to mention but a few. It has been contended that the celebrations of Thanksgiving Day in the United States marks the commencement of the Christmas period (Weaver & Gollust 42).
In our day to day lives there are many problems and challenges that we encounter and such challenges and problems destructs the lives of people to the extent that there seems to be nothing worthwhile or good in life. Some of these issues may include unemployment, health problems, and many others (Karter 36). Thanksgiving is one of the events that reminds such individuals that all is not gone, since there is a brighter side of life such as our loved ones, friends and other great things that life has to offer. Indeed, there very few opportunities where an individual gets a chance to have quality time with his or her family. This opportunity is nonetheless, offered by thanksgiving at least once in every year.
Since 1863, the United States has been celebrating thanksgiving every year. As a national holiday, thanksgiving emanated from a declaration by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 that November 4th of that year would be a thanksgiving day for the whole nation. The celebrations of this day or the inception of Thanksgiving Day by president Abraham Lincoln was intended to celebrate unity in the United States, as the country was experiencing civil war at the time. Today, however, thanksgiving is a festival where people celebrate and honor those who forfeited their own interests for the sake of others. The significance of thanksgiving include a moment where family members come together and strengthen their relationship as a family, it is also an opportunity for individuals to help and share what they have with the less fortunate in the society and above all, it is an opportunity to show gratitude to those whose sacrificed their interests for the benefit of others.
Bradford, Edward. “History of Plymouth Plantation.”The History of Thanksgiving in the united state36.1(2011): 142-154. Print.
Hodgson, Godfrey. A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims and the myth of the first Thanksgiving, New York: InfoBase, 2006. Print.
Karter, Diana. Thanksgiving: An American holiday, an American history, Indiana: Indiana University press, 2004. Print.
Miller, Marilyn. Thanksgiving, Washington: Steck-Vaughn, 2008. Print.
Morrill, Ann. Thanksgiving and Other Harvest Festivals: Holidays and celebrations, New York: InfoBase, 2009. Print.
Weaver, Carolyn & Shelly, Gollust. “History & Lore.” The History of Thanksgiving 12.2 (2012): 23-45. Print.
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