Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day as it is called by many is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November each year. It is at the end of the harvest season and is an annual Federal holiday to express thanks for material and spiritual possessions.
The period from Thanksgiving Day through to New Years Day is often called the holiday season in America.
Most people celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering at home with family or friends for a holiday feast.
Thanksgiving Day Traditions in the United States
One of the most important holidays in the United States is Thanksgiving. This day involves family getting together from all over the country and world for a time of special togetherness.
In addition to this family time, there are numerous activities and traditions which go along to make this day one of the most eventful days of the entire year. All offices are closed for at least the Thursday of Thanksgiving, and the Friday after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday.
Many schools also have the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, in order for students to travel home to visit their families during this time.
Thanksgiving Day A Time for Family
Of all the holidays on the American calendar, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the ones with the most connection with family and family time. It is common for family members who live far away to fly or drive back to their hometown for a large family gathering. Typically, the main event of Thanksgiving, the dinner, will take place at the house of the eldest member in the family. That is why many Americans will go the house of their grandparents.
Once all of the members of the family have arrived, they often spend time at the house, instead of going out and doing things. Activities that a family might do include some of the following:
Talking with each other.
It is rare that the entire extended family gets together, so this is an opportune time to catch up on everything that has happened over the past year.
Sharing photos of the past year.
(for those not on facebook the need to catch up on whats been happening can be sped up by showing photos – on i-phones and i-pads) This is another way to communicate what each family member has been up to the past year or so. Photos of friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, places of travel, and pets are some of the most common subjects of photos shown to family during this holiday.
Playing board games.
Some of the most popular games include Monopoly, Checkers, Trivial Pursuit, Janga, Sequence, and Cranium. These games can be a fun way to get family members who have not spent much time to talk and enjoy each other’s company while doing something together.
Watching movies or TV.
Watching television is a very normal thing for family members gathering for Thanksgiving to do, and there are annual televised events such as the parades in New York City or the football games all over the country.
Going outside in the backyard.
Since most family gatherings happen at the largest house, and most large houses in the United States have a sizable back yard, many activities can be enjoyed in this natural space.
Playing a sport like football or basketball.
This is another true activity of Thanksgiving. Since both the football and basketball seasons are well underway in the US, these are the most popular sports that are played during Thanksgiving. Some families even have annual football matches, pitting one half of a family against the other. For those who do not feel like getting dirty, a simple game of tossing the football back and forth is a great way for certain members of the family to bond and have conversation.
Eating traditional Thanksgiving foods.
Of course, one of the main attractions of Thanksgiving is the large amount of delicious food served up.
Going shopping on Black Friday.
The last Friday in November is known as Black Friday, and it is the largest shopping day in the entire year.
For most Americans, the main attraction of this last Thursday in November is the large selection of delicious high quality food cooked up by certain members of the family.
While the most famous food associated with Thanksgiving is turkey, there are several others which may show up at the dinner table :
This is a delicious sauce from cranberries. It is sweet and tangy in flavor. See below for a recipe to make your own cranberry sauce.
These are the classic bread item for Thanksgiving.
Usually there is a range of vegetables available, such as carrots, peas, green beans, lima beans, and zucchini.
Corn on the cob.
Often steamed as well, this dish dates back to the original Thanksgiving between the English settlers in Massachusetts and the Native Americans of the land.
A truly a classic American dessert, apple pie is often served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. This is eaten after the meal.
Since pumpkins are in season during this time of year, it is traditional to use all the excess pumpkins to make pies. Also, the seeds which are extracted are often baked and seasoned, making a yummy snack food.
A classic must have Thanksgiving food! It is often served with butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, cheese, and salt and pepper.
A mixed salad is a great healthy choice on the dinner table. Lettuce, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, green peppers, and other favorite salad items are combined together with salad dressing.
Makes about 4 servings
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
2. Stuff your Thanksgiving turkey or chicken.
A great homemade accompaniment for your Thanksgiving dinner.
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup mixture of water and orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
4 cups fresh cranberries
1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, zest and water/orange juice and boil for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the fresh cranberries and lower the heat.
3. Simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the berries are tender and the skins have popped.
3. Pour mixture into a bowl and put in the fridge until the sauce has thickened and jelled.
One of the traditions of American Thanksgiving is to make too much food. Even with ten or more family members gathering to observe this holiday, those who are cooking always make far too much. The extra food is packed and saved as leftovers, and eaten for days or weeks to come after the holiday. Here are some recipe ideas for using up your leftover turkey…
Leftover Turkey Curry with Rice
3 cups leftover cooked turkey, diced
1-2 tbsp curry paste (depending on your taste)
1 large onion, chopped
1 can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp oil
1 cup rice (optional) cooked
Rice – If you are going to have rice with your curry then cook start cooking this first so when you have cooked your turkey curry the rice will be ready about the same time.
1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet and add the onions and fresh ginger.
2. Fry until the onions are softened.
3. Then add the curry paste and cook for a minute.
4. Add the flour, broth and pineapple.
5. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes.
6. Mix in the turkey and cook for about 10 minutes until the turkey is heated through.
Serve immediately with rice.
Leftover Turkey Gobbler Hot Pot with Bacon
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 lb leftover turkey, diced
8oz bacon, diced
½ tsp thyme
2 cups milk
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 red onion, sliced
1 lb potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
Fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Fry the onion and garlic in a non-stick frying pan in a bit of vegetable oil.
3. Then add the turkey and bacon and stir-fry for a few minutes.
4. Sprinkle with flour and keep on cooking for a further minute while stirring.
5. Slowly add the milk and thyme and mix well. Allow to gently simmer for about 15 minutes.
6. Add the parsley and season well with salt and pepper.
7. Place the mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with the thinly sliced potatoes.
8. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Enjoy with fresh vegetables on the side.
Left-Over Turkey Melt for 1 (that’s YOU!)
2 large slices (1/4 inch thick) cooked turkey
¼ cup left-over turkey stuffing
1 tbsp cranberry sauce
¼ cup turkey gravy (leftover from your Thanksgiving Dinner)
1 slice (1/8 inch thick) Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut a piece of aluminum foil and place one slice of turkey into the middle.
3. Top with the stuffing, then the cranberry sauce.
4. Place the slice of cheese over the cranberries and top with the remaining turkey slice.
5. Wrap the foil slightly around the “sandwich” and bake on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the gravy in a little saucepan until hot.
6. Remove the sandwich from the foil and arrange on a dinner plate.
7. Pour the gravy over the turkey melt and enjoy!
Christmas is just around the corner!
Even though the Thanksgiving holidays are shorter than most would like, it is not long before the family meets again for Christmas. From Thanksgiving until the end of the year is considered to be “the holiday season,” with many family members getting together during this time.
The Monday after Thanksgiving, everyone is back to work for a few weeks before the Christmas and New Year holidays in December.