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THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS - PART 2
One of the most important holidays in the USA calendar is Thanksgiving, which takes place on the fourth Thursday in November, every year. It is a great time for families to join together to celebrate, and to give thanks for, everything they have. Dating back to the time of the Pilgrim Fathers, it was started by the first settlers in the USA, who faced enormous difficulties when they landed, and who gave thanks for their survival against all odds. As a result, many traditions have grown up around this famous holiday.
The world’s largest pumpkin pie ever to have been baked was made by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio in 2005. They used 900 pounds of pumpkin, 300 lbs of sugar, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 3. 5 lbs of salt, 2 lbs of pumpkin spice, 7 lbs of cinnamon, and 250 lbs of pastry.
Another tradition associated with the eating of the turkey is that of making a wish, using the wishbone. The person who gets the wishbone with their turkey has to choose another member of the family to make a wish. Each person holds one side of the wishbone and then they make a wish before breaking the bone. Traditionally, the person who is left holding the larger of the two pieces of bone will have their wish come true. The poor and needy are not forgotten, as in many communities there are collections of non-perishable food items to be given to charity. An important tradition that takes place in over 60% of American homes is the saying of ‘grace’ before the start of the meal.
Thanksgiving is also a time when families may go on vacation, or they may travel to visit their loved ones. With many families and friends gathering together it is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Most schools and colleges shut for four or five day weekends, giving children and staff the opportunity to celebrate. According to the American Automobile Association, in 2007 it estimated that 38. 7 million Americans would travel 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving. Approximately 80% would use a car, whilst 12% went by aeroplane. The rest, approximately 2. 8 million used trains, buses or other forms of transport.
Thanksgiving is also the start of the Christmas shopping season, and the day after Thanksgiving is regarded as the busiest shopping day of the year. This is known as ‘Black Friday’, and many shops hold sales to kick start the festive season’s shopping. Special Thanksgiving parades take place in many places in the United States. One of the most well-known parades is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which takes place in midtown Manhattan, New York City. This large department store began its traditional parade in 1924 and it had grown year by year, so that now it has floats, bands, songs from Broadway musicals, and giant helium-filled balloons. It first featured animals from the Central Park Zoo, and today, nearly 47 million people either watch it on TV or attend it in person. Snoopy has appeared as a giant balloon in the parade more times than any other character. The first American Thanksgiving Day parade was actually organised by Gimbel’s Department Store in Philadelphia, and took place in 1920. Other cities have followed suit, including Detroit and Houston.
Football is yet another tradition. Many regional matches take place on the weekend, and the Detroit Lions have hosted a game every year since 1934, apart from the war years.
There are three towns in the US which take their name from the turkey, and these are Turkey, North Carolina, Turkey Creek in Louisiana, and Turkey in Texas.
Edward Sandford Martin said the following about Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. "
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Page added on: 30 December 2008
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