U.S.A. The last week of November has been deemed the busiest time to travel within the United States. Traffic on highways reaches a standstill and airports are exceptionally crowded because people are racing home for Thanksgiving. On the last Thursday of the month, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by spending the day with close friends and family as well as by enjoying a tremendously enormous meal. So where did the idea for this holiday come from?

Jump back a couple hundred years and the answer lies there: In the late 1400s, when Europeans first discovered the East Coast of America they were surprised to learn that people already lived here. These “Native Americans” lived in a multitude of tribes, each with their own language and established customs that had stood the test of time until that point. Later on in the 1600s, Pilgrims from England arrived in present day Massachusetts and struggled to find enough food to survive. Through the help the Natives provided in teaching them how to farm and find food, the following year resulted in a very successful harvest. The Pilgrims responded by inviting them to join their families for a feast to celebrate. This meal included turkey and crops that were prevalent in the area: corn, squash, pumpkin and sweet potato, to name a few. This moment of peace and harmony has been instilled in American culture by taking one day to reflect on the past year, being grateful for what we have, and of course enjoying Thanksgiving supper. Before this happens, the President pardons two turkeys that can never be used for this holiday.

Thanksgiving has been a holiday for American families to establish their own traditions such as baking together all day. The main course that determines what time families sit down to eat is the turkey. After hours of waiting for it to bake in the oven, my family jumps at the sound of the timer because it means the meal is almost ready! Side dishes vary around the country, however the staples of a typical Thanksgiving meal are ham, corn, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, stuffing, (moist bread crumbs with spices), green beans, and cranberry sauce. Desert is a crucial part of the day too! In most homes, like mine, pumpkin and apple pie are the most popular!

Over time, this holiday has become slightly more commercialized. It is common for some families to spend the day watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and professional American Football; every year the National Football League teams play on Thanksgiving Day even if it is bitter cold or snowing in the Northern states. Some families even begin decorating for Christmas by picking out a tree together. Another event that has grown in popularity is Black Friday. This is the day after Thanksgiving when stores are open for 24 hours and offer unbeatable discounts on everything! I’ll admit it is ironic to stay up late or wake up early to go shopping after giving thanks for what we have, but this is one of those days thousands of people take advantage of. The best part of Friday in my opinion is indulging in leftover food that tastes just as good, if not better than it did on Thanksgiving!