What is Thanksgiving Day?
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when people gather to give thanks for the harvest and other important historical events. The arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in the United States is one example. Thanksgiving is celebrated in various countries and on different dates around the world including the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Liberia. This year it will be celebrated on Thursday 24 November in the United States, where it’s a national holiday.
Thanksgiving Day History
In the United States it’s a popular belief that the first recorded Thanksgiving dates back to the successful corn harvest gathered by the Pilgrims in 1621. The Pilgrims left Plymouth in England and sailed on the ship called the Mayflower, heading for the New World. After a long and treacherous journey lasting around 2 months they finally arrived. A month later they crossed Massachusetts Bay and began setting up the new village of Plymouth.
The pilgrims spent most of the hard winter on board their ship where they suffered from malnutrition and illness. When spring arrived a several local tribespeople came to visit them. The local tribes showed the settlers how to work the land and plant corn. How to catch the river fish, how to extract maple sap from the trees and how to identify poisonous plants. The first corn harvest was bountiful so the Pilgrims held days of celebrations. They invited the local tribes to join them in giving thanks.
Harvest thanksgiving had long been a tradition amongst Native Americans. However, when the settlers held their harvest celebration in 1621 it was later adopted as being the first one.
Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a national holiday. Many people take the opportunity to meet with their families and friends to celebrate together.
Each year the President receives a gift of two live turkeys. The President then “pardons” the turkey allowing the turkeys to return to live on a farm having avoided the oven.
Food plays a huge part in the traditional celebrations. Families will feast on roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce or vegetable alternatives. For dessert they will eat pumpkin, apple or pecan pie.
Music for Thanksgiving Day
Here’s a few of our suggestions of music help you celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Click through the links to our main site, download the sheet music and get practising today!
- America, the Beautiful – a traditional song
- Amazing Grace – originally an Appalachian folk tune known as New Britain
- The Greenwood Tree – a traditional round
- Shenandoah – a traditional song
- Maple Leaf Rag and Fig Leaf Rag both by Joplin
- Op.8 No.3 The Four Seasons, Autumn by Vivaldi
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