Houston, TX, USA : Today, Thanksgiving day – celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November – thousands lined the streets as iconic balloons floated and marchers danced in celebration of the the 68th annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston, Texas at about the same time the iconic 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and it’s famous floats soared over the streets of New York City with tens of thousands of celebrants. This festive scene with parades was repeated in major cities across the US, Canada and the the Caribbean.
In the US, Thanksgiving traditionally kicks off the “Holiday Season” just before the annual big sales of Black Friday.
The origin of Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1619 in Virginia, where 38 English settlers at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County conducted a religious celebration as dictated by the group’s charter from the London Company, which specifically required “that the day of our ship’s arrival at the place assigned… in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
The celebration was also marked at Plymouth Colony around the same time, where pilgrims from England invited local North American natives to a harvest feast after an unexpected successful growing season.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, made “The National Thanksgiving Proclamation” on October 3, 1789, marking the official national celebration of Thanksgiving. However, it was not until 1939 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date on the fourth Thursday of November in a bid to save the economy before Christmas during the Great Depression. The date was approved by Congress in 1941.
Thanksgiving is a day for family reunions and big feasts. Family members come back home from wherever they spend most of the year and prepare dinner together with turkeys, pies and stuffing top the menu.
Why turkey is served has different explanations. In a letter written by pilgrim Edward Winslow in 1621, he mentioned a turkey hunt before the dinner.
Another theory goes that wild turkeys are native to North America and they were a natural choice for the early settlers.
Every year, more than 50 million turkeys are served up on tables across the US. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush started a tradition of saving turkeys from the oven by freeing a 50-pound bird in the White House Rose Garden.
This year, President Donald Trump pardoned two turkeys: 47-pound Drumstick and 36-pound Wishbone.