There is an important public holiday in the USA this Thursday. Can you guess which one? Exactly, I’m referring to Thanksgiving Day. Although it isn’t celebrated in the UK very much, that day has got a special meaning for many Americans. Schools, offices and most of businesses close for Thanksgiving. It’s originally associated with the time when Europeans first came to North America, and to thank God and Native Americans for the fact that they had survived.
Read this interesting story and find out what happened in North America at that time. You’ll undestand the reason why Thanksgiving is a matter of paramount importance for most Americans.
On 16 September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 110 passengers -an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individual lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. They called themselves “the Pilgrims”. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Code, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of stablishing a village at Plymouth.
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remainings settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an American Indian called Samoset who greeted them in English. Soon afterwards, he returned with another American Native, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, catch fish in the rivers, avoid poisonous plants and other useful things. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving” -although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time -the festival lasted for three days. For the next 200 years, Thanksgiving was celebrated after the harvest. In 1863, the American president Abraham Lincoln, appointed a national day of thanksgiving and is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November.
While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods.
Well, this is the story of Thanksgiving Day. I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Bye-bye. See you soon.