28th November 2014
Our campers come to us from all around the world and we love seeing children from all sorts of different cultures interacting and getting to know each other. One of the most valuable parts of the Camp Suisse experience is the opportunity for our campers to learn more about the way people live in different countries. With so many of the children who stay with us coming from the USA, we thought we would take this opportunity to share a little bit of background information about one of North America’s biggest cultural events – Thanksgiving!
What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a celebration of all the things in the previous year that people have to be thankful for. It is mainly celebrated in the USA and Canada, although similar events are sometime held in other countries, such as Japan and Liberia. In the United States, Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November while in Canada it takes place on the second Monday in October.
How did it start?
The idea of thanksgiving feasts is related both to feasts celebrating successful harvests and days of religious observance, where Christians gave thanks for times of good fortune. The modern Thanksgiving celebration appears to have its roots in a thanksgiving feast held by the pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony to celebrate their first harvest in the Americas in 1621. It was attended by 53 colonists and 90 Native Americans, who had helped the pilgrims by teaching them how to grow corn and catch eels and by providing them with food during the first winter of the colony when the stores they had brought from England were running out.
How is Thanksgiving celebrated today?
Celebrations in the USA and Canada today generally revolve around families and friends coming together to share a meal and reflect on the things they have to give thanks for in the previous year. Traditional foods eaten include roast turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, which are all based around ingredients native to North America. Turkeys in particular play a big part in the image of Thanksgiving for many people and each year the current US president is presented with a turkey which is then given a presidential pardon, saving it from the dinner table and guaranteeing that the lucky bird will get to live out the remainder of its natural lifespan.
Many towns and cities also organise Thanksgiving parades with decorated floats and costumes and several high profile American Football matches usually take place over the Thanksgiving weekend, organised by the American National Football League (NFL).