After university I went and spent a year living and working in New York City. It was brilliant! It’s the best city in the world and if you’ve never been then you must.
Whilst I was there, there were various special days from the UK that I missed (like bonfire night), but there were also some new US ones that I was luckily enough to experience. Independence Day, Labor Day Weekend (although not too much goes on there, other than the end of being able to wear white) and my favourite, Thanksgiving.
The history of Thanksgiving, is that in September 1620 a ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth (UK) and headed over to the US. They arrived after an awful crossing in Cape Cod and had a bit of a tough winter. Half of the original Mayflower passengers died over the winter and those that survived weren’t well equipped in terms of skills of tools to farm the land. Luckily for them, a Native American called Squanto (who had been sold as a slave to the UK, but escaped and managed to get back to the US), helped them learn how to fish, farm corn, extract maple from trees, and introduced them to the Wampanoag, a local tribe. Without this help, they all surely would have died.
So in November 1621 after their first crop of corn was successfully harvested, they had a big old, three day feast, to give thanks. And so Thanksgiving was born.
Now Americans celebrate this on the third Thursday of November every year.
A lot of the world have quite a poor view of Americans – they think they’re loud, brash and overly materialistic. But like most stereotypes, it’s mostly untrue, and Thanksgiving is a wonderful example of how Americans are kind, caring, full of love and the desire to share and help others.
Thanksgiving is brilliant because there are no gifts. It’s not about family. It’s not about kids or holidays. It’s about being with the people you love and giving thanks for what you have. No one is alienated in Thanksgiving. Don’t have a family – you’ll be invited to share Thanksgiving with friends. Don’t have kids – so what?
There’s no presents to give or pressure to keep up with the Jones’. Just cook up a big old meal (traditionally turkey, although two massive turkey dinners within a month of each other is a bit much for some!), and be grateful for the things in your life that bring you joy.
So I wish we had Thanksgiving over in the UK. It’s just a lovely day, full of cheer and joy.
Have you ever been in the US during Thanksgiving? Did you love it as much as me?
Image by rfduck