Why Americans Celebrate the Holiday “Thanksgiving?”


Japan has thousands of years of history. In comparison, the United States is such a young nation. You might have heard of the American holiday “Thanksgiving.” In the United States, this is nationally celebrated on the 4th Thursday in the month of November. This year it is on Thursday, November 24.

In modern days, the “Thanksgiving” holiday is a time to “give thanks” and celebrate time and a large meal with family and friends. Today, this is a huge travel holiday in the U.S. People are flying or driving to be with their families around the U.S.

The food usually consists of turkey with stuffing, potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, several side dishes and pumpkin pie for dessert. Of course, every family chooses to eat special dishes that have become a “tradition” for their family. However, it always is a large meal to be shared with many people.

Thanksgiving has also been traditionally known as the start of the holiday and giving season. The next day, Friday, is generally known as the “first” shopping day for Christmas. Unfortunately, in the last few years, the Thanksgiving holiday has lessened in importance due to the department stores’ (retailers) push to sell more products for the Christmas season.

But why do Americans TRULY celebrate “Thanksgiving?” What is the past history? Personally, this holiday has a special meaning to my family and me. I am 13th generation American and a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendents. My ancestors, known as the Pilgrims, were on the first ship, The Mayflower, to colonize the United States in 1620.

The Pilgrims were a group of English people who came to America seeking religious freedom during the reign of King James I in England (the United Kingdom). They planned to make the crossing to America in two ships, the Speedwell and Mayflower. However, after many problems, the Speedwell was forced to return to England where the group was reorganized. In their second attempt to cross the Atlantic, they boarded the Mayflower in September 1620 bound for the New World (the United States).

They arrived as winter was settling in and endured significant hardships as they struggled to establish a successful colony at Plymouth, MA. 102 people arrived – men, women and children. However, by the spring of 1621, one-half of the people had died. They met the Wamapanoag (Native Americans). The Wamapanoag helped them plant and raise their vegetables, hunt and fish. They helped them survive in the new land and became friends.

In time, their colony flourished and lead the way to establishing religious freedom and creating the foundations of the democracy Americans enjoy today. Our national holiday celebrates the feast held in the autumn of 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag (Native Americans) to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest.

I am honored to be a descendent of these courageous people. They endured so many hardships to seek religious and personal freedom. In making a new colony in the United States, they made friends with the Wamapanoag and celebrated their friendship by sharing food together. I hope you have a chance to celebrate a traditional American Thanksgiving. It’s truly a wonderful and memorable holiday experience!

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