Having lived in USA for 4 1/2 years, and having 2 children born there who now have dual citizenship, we were fortunate to be able to become quite entrenched in American culture. America is actually a very different culture than the perception than Australians traditionally have through watching American TV shows.
When it comes to celebrations, Americans sure know how to do it. One of the more popular and food filled festivities is “Thanksgiving”.
There is as with most traditions, varying opinions on the exact history and beginnings of Thanksgiving. However, a brief history lesson will help (I promise).
A HISTORY LESSON CAN HELP YOUR FAMILY
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left the town of Plymouth in England. On board were 102 passengers. There were basically two types of passengers on board.
1) Religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith.
2) Other people who were lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World.
THE VOYAGE & FIRST YEAR
The voyage across the ocean in an ancient style, relatively small ship was treacherous and incredibly uncomfortable. The entire trip lasted 66 days. Then they established a village at Plymouth.
Unfortunately through the first winter there were terrible diseases and only half of the original passengers and crew lived to see Spring.
Years earlier an Indian had been captured and take back to England as a slave. He later escaped and returned home via an exploratory boat. By this time he had learnt to speak English. Some Indians taught these original European Americans how to harvest corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants.
BEGINNING OF THANKSGIVING DAY
In November 1621 after the first successful harvest of corn, Governor Bradford, the first governor of America organised a celebratory feast along with some of the native Americans who had helped them survive.
It wasn’t until 1863 in the middle of the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
Thanksgiving Day is now the largest and often most important family celebration for many Americans. Even bigger than Christmas.
THANKSGIVING AT HOME
There are a couple of very interesting things here that I think we as parents could benefit from personally, as well as lessons to pass on to our children.
1) Despite such horrendous conditions and incredible loss. These new explorers, Americans and history makers took time to be thankful for what they had, for new friends, for being alive.
2) The “pilgrims” were grateful for a future that no matter how hard, they had the opportunity to create.
3) This attitude of thanksgiving which can be seen through much of American history, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and other major documents and acts is a large part of why America became a super power.
Could putting more focus on this attitude of thanksgiving, especially coming into the Christmas season benefit your family’s culture?