Well, by the time you read this blog Halloween will have come and gone (arrived and departed) and thoughts will turn to the next holiday if any before Christmas and New Year. Traditionally in America (and also Canada) they celebrate Thanksgiving Day (thanksgiving always written as one word) near to the end of November.
The exact date changes every year because Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November. So this year it happens to be the 23rd of November and next year it will be the 22nd.
There appear to be different ideas as to when was the first Thanksgiving day but generally most believe it was officially decided by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. As the words suggest people gathered (came together) to offer thanks for the giving of the harvest. People wish to thank God for the safe collection of the harvest and the rain to help the crops grow. In those days it was celebrated in Churches as a specific religious festivity (celebration or feast day) but now it has developed (like most traditions) in to a commercial holiday.
Families traditionally come together for a family dinner which will always include some of the food they celebrated way back when (hundreds of years ago) so turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pie will be high on all menus. Usually, the beginning of the meal starts with a Blessing (words of thanks. Dear Lord we thank you for giving us this fine meal and bringing all the family together on this special day etc,etc). The Thursday is a national holiday with many people also taking the Friday as an extra day so that thanksgiving day is actually in reality a 4 day holiday .
In the cities across America parades will be held on or around Thanksgiving day. Today it represents the official opening of the shopping season and traders (shop owners) count the number of weekends between thanksgiving and Christmas to estimate how good their shopping season will be. Depending on the day that Christmas day falls (occurs) there may be one extra weekend or one less.
For example, if Christmas Day (25 th December) is on a Saturday or Sunday then normally they will have one less shopping weekend. This is really crucial (very important) for the big stores and retail shops. That extra weekend can mean the difference between a successful season or not.
English Idioms and Phrases related to Thanksgiving
Here are some English idioms and phrases related to Thanksgiving:
A BLESSING IN DISGUISE – Usually when something unfortunate happens but actually turns out to be to our advantage we say “that was a blessing in disguise”.
ex. I broke my arm playing football which was bad luck but it meant that I had to learn how to write with my other hand and now I am ambidextrous! (able to use the right and left hands equally well)
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS – Be grateful for what you have. If something bad happens to someone and we are moaning someone may say to us.Stop moaning you should count your blessings.
ex. We may have had a bad week in work and we are complaining when your partner says “you should count your blessings. Our neighbour lost his job yesterday!”
TALK TURKEY – A very American expression. Usually means we should start talking seriously. You often hear it in American detective films.
ex. Ok you guys we need to hear all the facts. You need to start talking turkey now otherwise we will lock you up!!
COLD TURKEY – When someone gives up a bad habit very quickly they often suffer withdrawal symptoms and go cold turkey. For example, when you give up smoking you will feel very bad for several days and wish you had a cigarette. You get headaches as part of your withdrawal symptoms.