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Thanksgiving: how to do it right

BySarah Rutledge

Nov 25, 2014

The United Kingdom has its fair share of holidays, but not included in its repertoire is the glorious Thanksgiving. What even is this holiday? Most people in the UK know it as a ‘warm-up Christmas dinner’, but why do Americans celebrate it in the first place?

In essence, Thanksgiving is a joining of close friends and family to celebrate each other through food. This celebration dates back to when colonial Americans used to celebrate a ‘harvest festival’ in order to give thanks for the success of the crops they had grown. They would all join together for a meal to show their thanks. This tradition has been carried on for hundreds of years in America and has modernized as the years have gone by.

Today, it is less a celebration of the harvest, and more a celebration of all the good things one has in life.

It allows those who celebrate it to take a step back from work, school, and other outside distractions to truly be thankful for what they have. Beyond the giving of thanks, the holiday is really about the food.

While it is called a ‘Thanksgiving dinner’, it will generally start around mid-afternoon. This is because so much food is consumed there generally isn’t a need for dinner.

Typically, cooking begins in the early hours of the morning, and revolves around the creation of the perfect turkey. The turkey is the centrepiece of every Thanksgiving meal, whether it is fried, baked, boiled, or even made of tofu – it isn’t Thanksgiving without a turkey.

While the turkey is the main attraction, Thanksgiving boasts some typically American sides such as sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and green bean casserole. A typical thanksgiving menu will consist of around 10-20 different dishes. And if that’s not enough, dinner is completed with an assortment of pecan, pumpkin, and various other pies.

It is essentially an entire day devoted entirely to stuffing your face. If you don’t end the day in a food coma that you are not sure you will recover from, then you haven’t done it right.

After the meal is done, families will typically join together to watch the Thanksgiving Day football game or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television. These events in recent years have become an almost essential part of the full Thanksgiving experience.

In an analogical sense, Love Actually is to Christmas as the Macy’s Parade is to Thanksgiving.

While the food and entertainment are probably what Thanksgiving is known for most, it is also a great opportunity to join together with close friends and family. It can often be extremely hard to see the ones closest to us due to busy schedules, distance, and other outside obstacles, but Thanksgiving brings everyone together.

Being an American in Scotland, I thought it would be hard to celebrate this holiday overseas. My family still comes over to celebrate it from the States though, and I am able to share the experience with my friends in Edinburgh. Thanksgiving transcends oceans and cultural divides, making it a holiday that needn’t only be celebrated in America.

While its origins are truly North American, it has become a holiday with values that can be universally observed. You shouldn’t have to be American in order to take a day out of your life to be thankful. So maybe this year, on the last Thursday of November, take some time to be thankful for all that you have.

Grab yourselves some turkey escalopes down at Sainsbury’s, have a glass of red wine, and enjoy Thanksgiving.

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