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Thanksgivings of the Past and Now

Nov. 25, 2020

Thanksgiving day is a western traditional festival created by the American people in 1621. Its origins hail from the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans who shared an autumn harvest feast. It is an opportunity to facilitate the family reunion for Americans and gatherings for friends who are too far from family. In the early stage, the date of Thanksgiving day was determined provisionally by the government after the independence of the United States. President Lincoln designated the Fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621 with Native Americans from the Wampanoag Tribe.

In addition to the US and Canada, there are unique Thanksgiving Days for Egypt, Greece, etc., but the UK, France. Some scholars in China propose to establish a “Chinese Thanksgiving Day” in order to “发扬 (fā yáng) carry” forward traditional culture.

发扬(fā yáng) : carry forward

Example:

wǒmen yīng gāi fā yáng yōu xiù de chuán tǒng.
我们应该发扬优秀的传统。
We should carry forward our excellent traditions.

zhè zhǒng jīng shén , wǒ rèn wéi shì yǒng yuǎn dōu yào fā yáng de .
这种精神,我认为是永远都要发扬的。
I think this spirit must always carry forward forever.

Customs

Evening dinner
This dinner is accompanied by ample and abundant food where a roast turkey is the main feature. Generally, people will stuff the turkey with all kinds of condiments and mixed foods called “stuffing”, then bake it wholly until the turkey skin becomes dark brown in color. After that, the host slices it into thin pieces, and the guest pours gravy and seasons it with salt and pepper.
Furthermore, “南瓜 (nán guā) pumpkin” pies, corn, sweet potato, cranberry jam, baked bread, and many other kinds of food and fruits are spread on the table.

南瓜(nán guā): n. pumpkin

Example:
zhè gè nán guā de fèn liàng bù xià èr shí jīn.
这个南瓜的分量不下二十斤。
This pumpkin weighs no less than twenty jin.

tā men chī le huǒ jī hé nán guā xiàn bǐng .
他们吃了火鸡和南瓜馅饼。
They ate turkey and pumpkin pie.

Activities

NFL
One of the most popular Thanksgiving pastimes is to watch the National Football League. Americans have watched NFL games on Thanksgiving Day since 1920. It’s an American tradition. People cheer for their favorite football team dressed in their team’s colors.

City Parade
Another popular and family oriented tradition is to watch the Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade which takes place in New York City ever since 1924. The parade that streams down 34th street of Manhattan have been televised nationally on NBC since 1953. Participants are dressed in vibrant costumes as floats glide by with professional bands playing and once upon a time even live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo participated.

Usually there are more than a million spectators lining the street to dance and enjoy the parade but this year the parade is being produced as a “television-only special presentation” over a two-day period, with 75% fewer participants.

Since balloons were introduced in 1928, replacing live zoo animals, there have been hundreds of beloved characters to enchant children and adults alike. These characters are occasionally upstaged by guest appearances from famous actors and musicians.

The 6-mile (9.7 km) route takes approximately 3 hours and is watched by households all across the United States on Thanksgiving Day. It is a tradition that families look forward to year after year and 2020 is no exception.

Black Friday

Black Friday is an informal name for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The day after Thanksgiving has been regarded as the beginning of the United States Christmas shopping season since 1952. Many stores offer highly promoted sales on Black Friday and open very early, such as at midnight. Sales can be so alluring to people that they set up tents and wait in line the day before to ensure early entry into the store.
With the consumer reactions came new company responses. For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or 4:00 a.m.. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers opened at midnight for the first time. And it continued getting more extreme with time. Discount deals encourage people to purchase things they don’t need and thus negate the purpose of celebrating a day for giving thanks for all we have.

There have been reports of violence occurring between shoppers on Black Friday and even death. Since 2006, there have been 12 reported deaths and 117 injuries throughout the United States. People literally trample one another to get cheap items that they don’t need.

Take a nap

According to a survey, many people who participate in Thanksgiving will take a nap, 60% of men compared to 56% of women. The Thanksgiving nap is just as traditional as the turkey. After a big meal and a lot of socializing with seldom-seen family members everyone is ready to rest until it’s time for pie. It’s not uncommon to wake from a nap to the smell of pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or apple pie being warmed up in the oven.

打盹 (dǎ dǔn): v. /n. Nap

Example:
tā zuò zài yǐ zi shàng dǎ dǔn .
他坐在椅子上打盹。
He napped in the chair.

wǒ xià wǔ de dà bù fèn shí jiān dōu zài dǎ dǔn .
我下午的大部分时间都在打盹。
I spent most of the afternoon taking a nap.

Despite this year being different, small gatherings of immediate family and close friends are bound to happen and naps will be had. Hopefully, the only difference will be that people will be truly thankful for what they have during one of the hardest years in modern history.

You May Want to Learn More:

Quintessential Customs of Double Ninth Festival 重阳节 (chóng yáng jié)

It’s That Spooky Time of Year Again!

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