The logical definition of culture in The Cambridge Dictionary is “The distinctive customs, achievements, products, outlook, etc., of a society or group; the way of life of a society or group” (p568). From this definition it is possible to understand that culture is directly connected with people’s religion, food, clothes, lifestyles, language, music, traditions etc.…
United States is considered as nation of immigrants, therefore, when immigrants come into the United States, they bring their own celebrations, foods, traditions and clothing styles. These lifestyles create American culture. Therefore, one example of American Culture is Thanksgiving without doubt. Thanksgiving Day invented by Pilgrims-religious separatist come to United States in search of freedom. They had a hard time at the time because of different living conditions, but within the help of local people, Pilgrim survived. In fact, the reason why Pilgrims first celebrated Thanksgiving was on purpose for celebrating their first harvest. Since then almost every family in the United States are celebrating this holiday. American families gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving on every last Thursday of November. This holiday includes specific foods, parades, activities, and other traditions that people value a lot. All people believe that Thanksgiving Day is one of the greatest moments of family to every American household.
Since America is a big urban country a lot of people decides to work and live far from their home. Therefore, almost every people consider Thanksgiving as a time to gather with their family together. The period before and after Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest traveling time for the United States transportations. Just for Thanksgiving weekend reason, more than 10 million people go to their home by airplanes and another 40 million people drive 100 miles or more. People who live far from their home travel more than hundred miles to spend a Thanksgiving dinner with their loved ones and family. Because during Thanksgiving holiday sharing meal with loved ones and family considered very important in American culture.
Turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving meal. According to the National Turkey Federations nearly 88 percent of people who celebrate Thanksgiving eat the roasted, baked or deep fried-on turkey with sides including mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving meals can take many hours to be prepared, sometimes even a whole day. For example, just a turkey alone takes at least 30 minutes for every pound, which means entire turkey takes five hours in the oven to be well-done. Moreover, many families also serve dishes in different ways depending on their ethnic backgrounds, such as couscous, pasta or curries. After various dinner, all families serve one common dessert after dinner which is pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream. This dessert is considered important right after turkey.
However, not all families cook by themselves and eat in their homes. Some families prefer to gather and eat in the restaurants. A lot of big restaurants create special Thanksgiving Day menus which gives opportunity to a lot of families, and foreigners to eat Thanksgiving dinner in a traditional way. Also, for some family and friends Thanksgiving is a time to give presents to their loved ones. Many people show gratitude and respect to elders, friends, siblings, even colleagues and give presents to them. Popular Thanksgiving presents include various kind of flowers, jewelries, home-made cookies, chocolate gift baskets, candy-wreaths, etc.
Parades are also one of the important parts of the holiday in the United States. Macy’s department store has been doing parades since 1924. The biggest Thanksgiving parade attracted 2 to 3 million viewers along with television audiences which happened in New York City. Parades usually features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats conveying various celebrities and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters. Another one important part of holiday is American football. People play American football in every level, from amateur and high school to college and national teams. Some people even play football on Thanksgiving Day and continue it through all holiday including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A lot of people enjoy relaxing and watching a game.
Many people prefer to celebrate Thanksgiving in a healthy way. Therefore, people participate in the race named “Turkey Trot”. This event take place in many towns and cities and runners who dressing up in a Thanksgiving-related costume participate in. Running distance for this race is usually five kilometers. Many Turkey Trots race urge runners to bring canned food and donate them to local non-profit organization, reason behind this donation is to help to people are need in community. Because not everyone in America has an easy Thanksgiving holiday because there are many poor and homeless people. Some people cannot afford an expensive Thanksgiving dinner, or some have not friends or families to have a dinner together. For example, many churches and service organizations offer free dinner those who are in needs. Also, some organizations deliver Thanksgiving dinner to people to sick or old who are not able to leave their home.
In every part of Unite States people consider Thanksgiving Day as an official opening of the Christmas season. The following Friday after Thanksgiving Day is known as ‘Black Friday’. Black Friday is so special event for shoppers because many stores open much earlier than usual to attract more people. Some businesses do not even wait until Friday for their sales to begin; they open their doors on Thanksgiving evening at noon. Therefore, shoppers have been known to line up for many hours before shops open, to take advantage of big discounts.
During Thanksgiving holiday almost every government offices, schools, universities, colleges, and other organizations are closed. Many offices and businesses allow staff to have a long four-day break for Thanksgiving. Therefore, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in whole nation.
Thanksgiving Day is one of the values that makes the United States special from other countries. People all throughout America try to make this day memorable and happy. Thanksgiving is a time to remember the pilgrims. Thanksgiving is an essential part of the American Culture.
- Amanda Moniz, A short course on the history of 8 Thanksgiving foods https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/a-short-course-on-the-history-of-8-thanksgiving-foods/2013/11/22/944b345e-40b3-11e3-9c8b-e8deeb3c755b_story.html
- Caty Weaver, Ashley Thompson. Thanksgiving: An American Tradition https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/thanksgiving-american-tradition-2017/4117570.html
- “Culture” Oxford English Dictionary, Clarendon Press-Oxford, (1993). p. 568
- Kim Ann Zimmermann, American Culture: Traditions and Customs of the United States https://www.livescience.com/28945-american-culture.html
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macy%27s_Thanksgiving_Day_Parade
- National Turkey Federation https://www.eatturkey.org/history-and-trivia/
- William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation https://www.plimoth.org/learn/just-kids/homework-help/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-history