On Thursday, November 27, America once again celebrates Thanksgiving Day. This is the time of year when most Americans go back home to spend time with family and close friends, renewing family bonds and friendships and to give our thanks for another bountiful year.
Many may have already forgotten the real celebration behind Thanksgiving, and why it is called as such. For the younger generation, it is more about having a traditional Thanksgiving meal and then for others, enjoying a four-day weekend, family reunions, football games and getting ready for the festivities surrounding Christmas.
Originally, Thanksgiving translates to a recollection of the first Thanksgiving, which was not a holiday or a feast. It was a gathering to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. It was the Pilgrims’ way of giving thanks to the 91 Wampanoag Indians that helped them survive a severe winter and guided them to have an abundant harvest in 1621. Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag tribe donated food stores to the Pilgrims when their supplies dwindled and a Patuxet Native American who lived with the Wampanoag, who was named Squanto, became their interpreter. He also taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn and catch eel.
Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by George Washington in 1789 and in 1863 Abraham Lincoln set its observance on the last Thursday of November. It was sanctioned by Congress in 1941 as a legal holiday.
Thanksgiving was given various meanings through its several transitions in the course of history. It was once celebrated to express gratitude for the people’s survival. Later it became a way to recognize a thriving community and at one point became the means to celebrate the submission of local Native Americans.
Families added their own values, customs and traditions to Thanksgiving over the centuries, which changed the day’s original purpose.
Still, Thanksgiving Day is a day to express gratitude. It is a day to gather in unity, bound by a common purpose. It is the time to reconcile differences. It is a day for healing, to continue to live with hope and strength and to share our struggles and our victories. Thanksgiving Day is the time to teach the young about their heritage so they can continue the legacy and in turn, have them add the sentiments they value the most.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family, remember what the day means: saying thanks and giving. Say “thanks” for all the abundant materials and economic wealth you have gained and sharing some of it, including your talent and your time to the less fortunate.
Take a moment to reflect. How can you express the true meaning of Thanksgiving? Can you spend at least part of your day with someone in need or share your talent and time to give thanks for the abundance you have received?
As we pause to count our blessings, it is the perfect time to say thank you for allowing us to share our passion and love for language. Happy Thanksgiving Day!
-Day Translations Inc. Team