Thanksgiving Day – the fourth Thursday in November – is one of the most important holidays in the USA. It is a family occasion, and people travel, sometimes over enormous distances, to be with their loved ones for the long weekend. Throughout the country, families join in prayer and enjoy a sumptuous meal of turkey, corn and pumpkin. When it is all over and everyone has eaten far too much, it is time to start thinking about Christmas!
What do they give thanks for? Some thank God for the good things they have, others express their thanks for a successful harvest, but for most Americans Thanksgiving is a tradition which began in 1621, a year after the Pilgrim Fathers had set up a new colony in North America in order to enjoy religious freedom. The Pilgrim Fathers arranged a feast so that they could give thanks for a good harvest and, by the way, thank the Native Americans who had taught them to farm, hunt and fish. What did they eat at this first Thanksgiving dinner? Turkey, of course, with corn and pumpkin.
Work in pairs and find answers to these questions.
- Why could we say that Thanksgiving is rather like Christmas?
- Why do you think Americans say prayers on Thanksgiving Day?
- Which historical event do most Americans remember on Thanksgiving Day?
- Why did the Pilgrim Fathers travel to America?
- Why were the Native Americans important to the Pilgrim Fathers?
- Why do Americans eat turkey, corn and pumpkin at Thanksgiving?
Activities for the links below
1) People have given thanks for good harvests throughout history. Who are referred to in the following statements?
- The name of their goddess of corn reminds us of corn flakes, muesli and other breakfast dishes.
- They ate roast pork at their Thanksgiving festival, which lasted for 72 hours.
- These people cried at harvest time in order to trick the corn spirit.
- They celebrate Thanksgiving a few days after people in the USA.
- Every year, the head of state of these people announces that Thanksgiving will be celebrated.
- These people may have associated the growing of crops with the bearing of children.
2) Look at the article about the Pilgrim Fathers. It consists of eight paragraphs. The paragraphs do not have headings, but we are going to provide them. The heading for the first paragraph might be “A fresh start across the ocean”. Now make headings for the other seven.