On November 25 of this year Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. This big holiday always falls on the fourth Thursday of November and it is celebrated by Americans of all religions. It’s such an important holiday that all schools and most  businesses are closed for the long four-day weekend! Americans travel great distances to be with their families on this special day.

 

What is the meaning of Thanksgiving Day?

The real meaning of Thanksgiving is revealed by its name: a day to give thanks for all the good things we have, a day to show gratitude to others and to share with others the good things we have. Thanksgiving Day started a long time ago on the northeast coast of America, in a place called Plymouth Rock.[1]

 

What happened at Plymouth Rock?

In 1620 a group of people called the Pilgrims decided to leave Great Britain because of religious problems,  and migrate to North America. They were migrants who wanted to start a new life in a new country, and practice their religion freely.

One hundred and one men, women and children left Great Britain in September 1620 on a small sailing ship called the Mayflower. Their leader was William Bradford. The long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean was  difficult and dangerous, and several Pilgrims died.  In December 1620 they reached the northeast coast of North America, which was a wilderness. [2] They called this area Plymouth Rock.

It was almost winter and the weather was very cold and snowy. They didn’t have homes and there was very little food to eat. It was too late to grow crops. Many Pilgrims died during the long, cold winter which is typical on the northeast coast.

 

The first Thanksgiving

Luckily a friendly tribe of American Indians called the Wampanoag tribe lived nearby. They saw that these new people needed assistance,  and they did everything to help them get through the winter. In the spring the Pilgrims met Squanto, a member of the Wampanoag tribe, who taught them how to grow corn and other crops. He also showed them where to hunt and fish. Soon the American Indians and the Pilgrims became good friends.

By the end of the summer of 1621 the Pilgrims had built houses and had grown crops. There was food for everyone and hope for the future. Governor William Bradford was very grateful to the Wampanoag Indians for their kindness and generosity.  In November 1621 he decided to celebrate with a dinner for the Pilgrims and about ninety Wampanoag  friends, who had helped them in every way. This was the first Thanksgiving Day when the Pilgrims gave thanks for all the good things that were happening in Plymouth, their new home.

 

Thanksgiving today

Thanksgiving today is not just a delicious meal with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and family cheer. And it’s not  just the traditional New York City Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s much, much more! During the four-day weekend hundreds of charity organizations and churches  share the Thanksgiving Day spirit with others who are less fortunate. Some organizations prepare free meals, others bring free groceries to poor families, and still others visit hospitals and nursing homes. Thanksgiving is truly a time to give, share and care!

 

[1] Plymouth Rock : a small settlement in what is now the American state of Massachusetts; tourists often visit this place.

[2] wilderness : there are no people or houses here.