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Happy Thanksgiving!

24/11/2011

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

Thanksgiving is a very important holiday because not only was the first holiday the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated, in 1621, and there is evidence that it has earlier origins than that date. For example, there is evidence for an earlier celebration on the continent by Spanish explorers in Texas at San Elizaro in 1598, as well as thanksgiving feasts in the Virginia Colony. And well before that, both Native Americans and Europeans had been celebrating the end of the harvest by holding festivals and feasts.

For many years, Thanksgiving celebrations were held on different dates. This all changed when, in 1863, in an effort to foster a sense of unity between the Northern and Southern states, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, and set the date at the final Thursday in November. This was changed to the fourth Thursday in November in 1941 by President Franklin Roosevelt.

How does a “typical” American family celebrate Thanksgiving? That depends on the family! Most families gather together and eat a meal that includes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, vegetables, yams, and pie – pecan, pumpkin, or apple. However, in the United States there are also vegetarian families who change the menu to suit their diet, regional differences, differences based on cultural backgrounds, or different traditions just because there are so many different families. In a country with 308 million people, it is hard to say that everyone does the same thing!

One thing all Americans have in common though – all know that the purpose of the holiday is to give thanks, and give thanks they do. Some people volunteer on Thanksgiving, others volunteer all year round. Some people donate money, others spend it on people they love. People express their gratitude in different ways.

We at the Kirovograd Window on America Center would like to wish our American friends – in Kirovograd, in Ukraine, and in America – a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

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