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By Eva Mandelbaum and Amber Lau

What do you picture when you think of Thanksgiving? Maybe you see a heated football game, turkey and cranberry sauce, stuffing, family, the Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, or The National Dog Show. Maybe Thanksgiving for you means spending time with friends and family and appreciating the little and important things in your life. Thanksgiving is a renowned holiday celebrated by most people around the country, but have you ever wondered what makes this holiday so prominent to society or the meaning behind it?

September 1620 is when the Mayflower brought 102 individuals from Plymouth, England, to the New World. Intrigued by the promise of prosperity, land ownership, and the ability to freely practice their faith, these 102 people spent 66 treacherous and intense days aboard before dropping anchor near the tip of Cape Cod. A month after, the Pilgrims crossed Massachusetts Bay where they began establishing a village at Plymouth. As a result of the harsh conditions that first winter, many colonists remained on board, where there were outbreaks of contagious diseases. To their surprise, an Abenaki Native American greeted the colonists in English. He later returned with Squanto, another Native American. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to live with the land by catching and growing food and avoiding potentially poisonous plants. Additionally, Squanto helped the colonists ally with another local tribe, the Wampanoag. Despite their differences, Pilgrims and Native Americans appear to have lived in peace with one another.

In November 1621, things began to look even brighter for the Pilgrims. Their first corn harvest was successful! In honor of their success, a celebratory feast was organized by Governor William Bradford. The celebratory festival lasted three days and Native American Allies of the colony were invited. This celebration is also known as the first Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, it is not certain that turkey was offered when the feast was hosted in 1621. Despite this, according to the National Turkey Federation, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, portraying its prominence and the integral role it plays in the holiday.

Yes, food is an immense part of celebrating this holiday, however, that is not all Thanksgiving has to offer. Thanksgiving is a time to think and act on what we are truly grateful for, and what we value most in our lives. This day brings people together: family and friends from all different places who appreciate what they have through festivities and a big feast. It is a tradition where people gather to enjoy turkey, football, and family. This time is spent eating food and watching the game with the people that are closest to you.

In addition to the at home festivities, cities and communities also get together to celebrate. The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade occurs in New York City where thousands of people gather to participate in the fun festivities and observe the incredible balloons flying through the air. This also airs nationwide on television for millions of more people to watch in the comforts of their homes. Unfortunately, this year, due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, this parade will occur online only, so families will be streaming this event on their televisions or laptops from different homes so everybody gets to enjoy. Thanksgiving is a time where the people that care about each other join together and connect through the things that they are most thankful for in their lives.

Thanksgiving this year will be different than any other year, and it will certainly be one to remember. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic that we are currently facing, festivities and social gatherings may be put on hold or cancelled. However, this does not mean that we cannot celebrate this important holiday! Thanksgiving is about connecting with loved ones and celebrating what you are grateful for. People don’t have to be in the same room to connect and talk with one another. Many people this year are planning on holding virtual festivities and video conferencing with family who are unable to gather in person in order to maintain social distancing standards. This is a great way to catch up with people you haven’t seen in what seems like forever while still staying safe. Regardless of the unusual circumstances this year, whether you plan to spend time with family you live with, or through a screen with other loved ones, Thanksgiving will still be a special day of following traditions, and even creating new ones.

Beginning from the history of Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims, all the way to 2020, this holiday will always be important to people nationwide. Thanksgiving is a holiday that people from all different places, of all different ages, and of all different religions can be a part of. People from all different places gather to make memories with friends and family. It is a great way to enjoy fun entertainment and festivities such as the Macy’s parade, along with catching up with the people you love, and feasting on a huge meal. However, this year’s holiday season may be looking a little different than in the past because of our current situation. Either way, we will be having a great time! Stay safe, bond with your loved ones, and have lots of fun!

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