History of Thanksgiving Holiday in Western Countries
Thanks giving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and offering sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest for the current year and of the preceding year.
Thanks giving is an unusual holiday because it doesn’t always fall on the same day or the date of the year like Christmas, New Year and Halloween.
In the US
In the US, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated on the fourth Thursday in every November. This holiday was traditionally held on the last Thursday of November, whether it is 4th Thursday or 5th Thursday of the month.
Before it became an official holiday in US, President George Washington issued a proclamation in 1789 that Thursday, November , would be a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.”
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said that Americans should recognize the last Thursday of every November as a day of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving became an official national holiday in United States of America in 1870, along with Christmas, New Year’s Day and Independence Day. At that time, however, it was decided that the President would decide the date of Thanksgiving Holiday.
Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, is an annual Canadian holiday, held on the second Monday in October since 1957, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Outside of Canada it is sometimes called Canadian Thanksgiving in order to distinguish it from Thanksgiving in the United States.
What Do People Do? Many people have a day off work on the second Monday of October. They often use the three-day (Saturday, Sunday & Monday) Thanksgiving weekend to visit family or friends who live far away, or to receive them in their own homes. Many people also prepare a special meal to eat at some point during the long weekend. Spending time with family, feasting, religious practice
The Thanksgiving weekend is also a popular time to take a short autumn vacation. This may be the last chance in a while for some people to use cottages or holiday homes before winter sets in. Other popular activities include outdoor breaks to admire the spectacular colors of the Canadian autumn, hiking, and fishing. Fans of the teams in the Canadian Football League may spend part of the weekend watching the Thanksgiving Day Classic matches.
Turkeys, pumpkins, ears of corn and large displays of food are also used to symbolize Thanksgiving Day.
They all go to church and offer thanksgiving prayer. After this they go out and enjoy for four days (i.e. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). They all take leave on Friday so as to have four days to enjoy.
In Costa Rica
In anticipation of Halloween Day, people all over the world dream of scary or comical elaborated costumes. Halloween is a festival celebrated in the U.S predominately. The Costa Rican Masquerade Day, known in the native Costa Rican, La Mascarada, is an adaption of Halloween Day in the U.S, usually celebrated on the 31st of October. It is a recent tradition in Costa Rica which has gained popularity in the country in the last few years.
Origin of Masquerade Day
They generally use mask and black colour costumes. Costa Rican masks are not ordinary masks: they are usually oversized paper mache heads that depict prominent and popular characters from politics, mythology (in this case, devils and animals are popular), and characters from sports and films are also taken into consideration.
Producing a mask is time-consuming and a tedious affair. The craftsman starts with a hand-made mould made from clay. This mould is left to dry for about a week; after that, the mold is carefully and meticulously covered with strips of paper attached with glue produced from flour and water.
How is it celebrated?
People, mostly children on giant costumed puppets march the streets covering houses, malls and shops, and they are always accompanied by small music bands known as cimarron.
Frankly speaking, I was based in India for 61 years of my life. This was the first time I heard about Halloween and I personally saw the children going around with small boxes or buckets singing, dancing and celebrating very cheerfully greeting each other. The elders from different houses and shops offer them chocolates and sweets. In many houses, the chocolates are kept either at the entrance of the houses or in the cars. Children pick up decent quantity of chocolates and move ahead.
Special Food on this Thanksgiving Day
The holiday in the US, is associated with a traditional turkey dinner (that has plenty of side dishes like Gujarati/Rajasthani “Thali” or Kerala’s “Sadya” in India), along with a thoughtful reflection on everything that people have to be grateful for.
In Canada, traditionally, they include in their meal; roast turkey and seasonal produce, such as pumpkin, corn ears and pecan nuts. Now, the meal may consist of other foods, particularly if the family is of non-European descent.
What is Special about Pumpkins on this Day?
You will notice that the Greeting Cards and the image of Thanksgiving will mostly have pumpkin. In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. … Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals.
Also, they have the following believes about Pumpkins :
Eating pumpkin may help you look younger and lose weight, experts say
Packed with vitamins, eating pumpkin can have some surprising health benefits
Pumpkins are immunity boosters.
Pumpkins are a high source of vitamin C, besides vitamin A it contains, which is a nutrient that has long been associated with boosting immunity.
Pumpkins can help your eyesight.
Pumpkins are a high source of vitamin A, which plays a significant role in eye health, according to experts.
Pumpkins are helpful for weight loss.
If you’re looking to shed a few pounds with a healthier diet, pumpkins could become your secret weapon to lose weight.
Pumpkins boost fiber and lower cholesterol.
Pumpkins are high in fiber, which has a list of benefits, including satiating hunger and lowering “bad” cholesterol.
Thanksgiving Holidays in India!
Thanksgiving is not recognized as a national holiday in India. Thanksgiving is celebrated in few parts of India, mainly in the parts of Christian population and in Goa.
India being a predominantly agricultural nation, the population of India relies on a good harvest for their livelihood. This is the time when the fields begin to bear fruit or giving fruit because of the hard work and strong belief in God.
However, there are festivals at different times throughout the year convey the theme of Thanksgiving, such as Lohri in the states of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Pongal and Onam, celebrated in South India, Vaisakhi or Baisakhi celebrated in Punjab, Haryana and other northern states, Makar Sankranthi or Uttarayan (Gujarat) or Maghi or Poush Sankranthi (West Bengal) in other states of India. There are Holidays on these occasions.
Generally, January is the month of thanksgiving in India. Every year, the month of January brings with it a host of festivals of joy and gratitude celebrated across India.
In the month of January, the North India, especially the states of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Himachal Pradesh, are filled with enthusiasm all around as they wait for the winter harvest or rabi crops. The important crop of wheat is sown in October and ready to be harvested in mid-January. As the earth begins its journey, moving closer to the Sun, the people celebrate by welcoming Uttarayan. It signifies the end of the coldest month of Paush, and beginning of Magh. On the day of Lohri, children go door-to-door asking for lohri or loot in the form of money, peanuts, jaggery and sweets. They sing in praise of Dulha Bhatti, the local Robin Hood who helped the poor by taking from the rich and saving innocent women. In the evening, a bonfire is lit with people circling it and offering puffed corn. They chant ‘Aadar aye dilather jaye (let the honour come and poverty disappear). There is dancing and singing with the flavour of traditional folk songs and instruments. The next day is Maghi, the beginning of the month of Magh. People take a dip in the river and give charity as gratitude for all they have been given.
Bihu denotes three festivals celebrated through the farming calender in Assam. Bhogali Bihu is the last of these and marks the time when the hard work of farmers bears fruit. Also known as Magh Bihu and Maghar Domahi, it’s an important time for farmers as they get to sell their harvest. The first day is Uruka when a grand feast is organized at night. On the morning of Bhogali Bihu, young men build a temporary cottage called Bhelaghar in nearby fields. They also build another structure called Meji with hay. During the night, villagers gather at the Bhelaghar and cook different kinds of delicacies. Men and women sing, dance and play conventional games. The next day is the day of Magh, when young people burn the Meji homes, offer prayers to the fire god to provide bountiful harvests for the next year. People visit other homes and exchange Assamese delicacies. Food is offered to the fire god through the burnt Meji homes with the belief that the fire will take away the cold. Bull fights, cock fights, egg fights and nightingale fights are organized for recreation too.
“Makar Sankranthi” (Maharashtra & other parts of India) or “Uttarayan” (Gujarat) or “Maghi” or “Poush Sankranthi” (West Bengal) festival marks the beginning of the harvest season when new crops are worshipped and shared with delight. The harvest festival heralds a change in season, as from this day, the Sun begins its movement from Dakshinayana (South) to Uttarayana (North) hemisphere.
In Gujarat, it is popularly celebrated as the day of kites i.e. the day of Uttarayan and Vasi Uttarayan. Savouries like undhiyo and chikkis made of sesame, jaggery and peanuts are distributed as well. I have been staying in Ahmedabad & Vadodara, Gujarat for 41 years with successful career and I have practically gone through this experience. In Maharashtra, people exchange puran poli and Tilgul amongst loved ones, to keep aside ill feelings and animosity.
“Baisakhi” is a spring harvest festival for Sikhs and Hindus. … It marks the Sikh new year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Vaisakhi is also an ancient festival of Hindus, marking the Solar New Year and also celebrating the spring harvest.
“Pongal” is one such big festival, celebrated every year in mid-January, mostly in the south of India and especially in Tamil Nadu, to mark the harvest of crops and offer a special thanksgiving to God, the sun, the earth, and the cattle.
They decorate their houses and make colorful ‘kolams’ or ‘rangoli’ in the streets. There is a special day dedicated to the cattle. They are washed, their horns painted and adorned with flowers and beads. They are given respect and are worshipped. They also have bull and bird fighting like Jallikattu in parts of the state on this day.
I am originally from Tamil Nadu, India and I have gone through this practical experience of Pongal celebration.
“Onam” is the biggest festival of the year in Kerala. It is generally celebrated in the last week of August. The purpose of the festival is to commemorate the mythical King Mahabali, celebrate the end of the monsoon season, and welcome the harvest. This is a great festival to experience in India as it is full of happiness, excitement, and enjoyment by people of all ages. ‘Sadya’ is the traditional and special meal with 21 varieties, they have on this auspicious day.
All these people do go to their places of worship to give thanks to God for good harvest and for every other blessings. They do exchange greetings and best wishes with their family members, neighbors, relatives and friends.
However, the Religious and Spiritual Persons THANK GOD in their prayer on a Daily basis. For these persons ‘Thanksgiving‘ is a Daily Practice. We must give THANKS at the end of Each Day before going to sleep. We must give THANKS for whatever good or bad events that have taken place in our life on that particular day.
I am very thankful to my employers St Xavier’s Social Service Society, CMC Limited, CRB Tech Solutions Pvt Ltd (a Career Development Company for freshers) and Gujarat Infotech Limited (an IT Corporate) who gave me excellent opportunities.
LET US GIVE THANKS Today & Every Day
Family, Relatives, Friends, Teachers, Bosses, Leaders, Military & Veterans.