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The origin of Thanksgiving is a familiar tale that is taught to us as children. The Pilgrims were facing religious persecution in their home of England. Seeing a better life for themselves, in 1621 they set sail to the New World. The landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts and were greeted by the Native Americans. Unlike other times in American History, the Pilgrims and The Native Americans got along. The Native Americans helped the Pilgrims and taught them how to utilize the land to grow crops more efficiently. After the first harvest in 1621 (which was approximately in November) they all celebrated with huge feast to give thanks.

It is hard to determine if Thanksgiving was celebrated throughout the rest of the 1600s. It has been documented that it was a religious celebration for the Pilgrim and Puritan churches. It was celebrated by state by state and wasn’t a national holiday. It wasn’t until George Washington on November 26th 1789 proclaimed it to be a national holiday. Because November 26th fell on a different day each year, it was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed that Thanksgiving should be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in 1863. After traditionally celebrating the holiday on the fourth Thursday of November, Congress signed it into law in 1941.

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated and recognized holidays in the United States. The traditional celebration that most families have is their own mini-feast by eating turkey with a smorgasbord of sides including casseroles in glass containers , cranberry sauce, corn on the cob and apple pie. Most people do not realize, the Pilgrims did not have Turkey at the first thanksgiving and most likely ate venison. Turkeys didn’t become popular until the late 1800s.

The common norm is that there is usually a plethora of leftovers. Another popular Thanksgiving tradition is having a recipe swap with all different ideas of what to do with your leftover turkey. Someone common recipes are creating turkey soup with a stock pot , making turkey salad and sandwiches.

Besides food, there are some other Thanksgiving traditions such as watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which began in 1924. Every year thousands make their way to Herald Square to watch the parade in person while millions relax at home at watch the parade on TV. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is known for it’s oversized balloon floats and including famous celebrities and national figures. Another tradition that is popular is around the dinner table, everyone announces what they are thankful for this year. This varies from person to person but common answers include friends, family and having a job.

No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, one thing is for sure that the holiday brings friends and families together.

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