Today marks a great American holiday where people give thanks for the blessings in their life including family, friends, food, water, and good heath. The beauty of the holiday is that it is one of the only major holidays in the country that all cultures and religions celebrate. It is a uniting celebration for the country.
The story dates back to the early 1600s when the Mayflower ship left Plymouth, England, seeking prosperity, land ownership, and a place where they could practice their individual religions freely. After reaching the New World, the “pilgrims” (as they were later called) had to face disease, death, and a brutal winter. Only half of the original passengers survived until the Spring. It was then that the pilgrims met the Native Americans who lived in the areas in which the pilgrims had settled themselves. There started a new friendship where the Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to live off the land: cultivating corn, extract sap from maple trees, and showing them how to identify poisonous plants. In the month of November 1621, when the pilgrims had accomplished their first successful harvest, they held a three day celebration inviting the Wampanoag tribe, thanking them for their help in completing the harvest.
It is not actually known what types of food were presented at the celebration but it is believed that there were deer and other vegetables and fruit that they collected from the land. It’s pretty certain pumpkin pie, stuffing, and all the other creative delights were left off the menu at the time but as the years have evolved so has the traditions. Now Americans families have taken on their own traditions:
1. Thanksgiving Eve
A night out with old hometown friends where you get a chance to catch up and see people you really only see maybe once a year on that night!
Or a night with movies and take-out Chinese food. Chinese food has become a popular tradition among families on TGE!
2. Home Alone
Home Alone, a known Christmas movie, is put on during Thanksgiving celebrations every year with families gathering on their couches to enjoy Kevin’s comical story.
3. A night at the Theater
After being stuffed with too much Thanksgiving Day food many families like to end their night seeing a great film at the movie theater.
4. Watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade
Families all around the country tune into the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Thousands line up in NYC to witness it in person. The parade consists of hot air balloon characters like Charlie Brown, marching bands, and superheroes like Spiderman. But every child waits patiently for the star of the show that comes at the very end – Santa Claus!
5. Drinking games
For the families that have few to no kids in the celebrations, drinking games have become a great tradition. From card playing to Das Boot, adults find themselves having great laughs and times with friends and family.
6. Arts & Crafts
Many children participate in crafts, making snowflakes and hand turkeys. Sometimes even the adults get involved!
Many people around the country choose to give back on Thanksgiving to those less fortunate. People volunteer at soup kitchens all around the country serving donated thanksgiving day delights to the poor.
8. Giving Thanks
My own family and many like us take the time to really think about what the holiday represents. Every year from oldest to youngest we go around the room saying what we’re thankful for. It’s a great tradition because sometimes we need a reminder from our busy lives about how lucky we are. It’s my favorite tradition even though it always leaves me feeling emotional!
Luckily for Swedes and American Ex-pats, Sweden has some places for people to celebrate the holiday! Here is a list of where you can find some turkey:
1. The American Table, 595 kr per person
2. Hard Rock Cafe, 395 kr per person
3. Saints Food & Drinks, 545 kr per person
4. The American Club of Sweden & Stockholm Stadmission (this is a collaborative effort to help give Thanksgiving food to the poor)
5. Gåshaga Sealounge, 595 kr per person
6. Marie Laveau, has a pulled turkey sandwich on the menu in honor of the holiday on 28/11 & 29/11
Or create your own celebration – even if you turn it into a “friendsgiving” day. Grab a bunch of people you love, everyone make their own dish and enjoy a foreign tradition that is very dear to the U.S.’s heart!
Happy Thanksgiving To You All! Love, TS.
Words by Angela Markovic