The Importance of Thanksgiving
Featured Article: https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving
November is starting to draw to its close, which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner! We’re so excited for this special time of year, where we get to spend time with our family over a nice, filling meal. With the Thanksgiving Feast now only a couple days away, we want to take this week to focus on why the Holiday is so important. We recognize that the story and tradition of Thanksgiving may not be one that our students are fully aware of, so this week we are focusing on helping our kids understand its meaning and purpose.
One of the responsibilities that comes with being a parent is answering all the questions your kids may have as they grow up and learn about the World. The good news is, we’re here to help you out this Thanksgiving, because we are so grateful for all of our amazing parents!
When it comes to Thanksgiving, there’s three main things children should remember:
For our parents, we hope this post serves as a reminder of the story of Thanksgiving and its importance, but stick around and maybe you’ll learn something new today as well! For example, did you know that the first Thanksgiving Feast was a three-day-long celebration? Keep reading for more information and facts about the origins of Thanksgiving, and also be sure to check out this article from HISTORY.com.
One of the biggest factors of Thanksgiving’s importance is the history behind it. As you may remember from history class, the first Thanksgiving Feast was celebrated by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans in the 17th century. It was hosted as a way for the Pilgrims and Native Americans to thank each other for the help they each provided in the first Harvest of crops by the Pilgrims after they came to America.
The Thanksgiving Feast became a tradition each year, held in Fall after that year’s harvest of crops. It also became a day of exchanging any and all thanks for the help and support that our family, friends, and community provide. Though the original Thanksgiving did last for three days, it eventually went on to be celebrated annually as a single-day event.
However, it wasn’t until 1863, over 200 years after the first Thanksgiving Feast, that President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. The final Thursday of November of each year was selected to celebrate the Holiday. Before, each state had their own individual designated “Thanksgiving” day, so this declaration unified the country’s celebration of thanks. According to the History article, the designated date of celebration for the Holiday was subsequently changed in 1939 to the third Thursday of November, during the Great Depression. This decision was met with pushback from the American people, so it was officially established as the fourth Thursday of November (slightly different from Lincoln’s decision for it to be on the final Thursday).
As a Holiday, Thanksgiving has changed quite a bit since the 17th century, but the root of the Holiday remains the same: a time to celebrate all the people in our lives, and to give thanks back to those who have helped us.
There are many different proceedings and traditions that have come to be associated with Thanksgiving, starting with the Feast. As the main focal point of the Holiday, the Thanksgiving meal is what brings families and friends together for the evening. It allows people to forge and strengthen their familial bonds over the dinner table, and spend time with each other. The Thanksgiving meal may take shape in many different forms, but the traditional Thanksgiving menu includes roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Additional accouterments to the feast are candied yams, soups, and an assortment of fruit pies. No matter what you eat this Thanksgiving, sharing a meal with your family is one of the biggest traditions of the Holiday.
Another big tradition is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Parade is an annual event that most prominently features a larger-than-life cast of popular character floats and balloons, as well as star-studded performances! The Parade is a great way to bond with family together, and it’s always a super entertaining watch. You can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, starting at 9 am!
There are plenty of other Thanksgiving traditions, including watching Football, running in a Turkey Trot race, and reminiscing over old family photos and home videos. However you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, spending time surrounded by family is what is most important.
The importance of family during this Holiday cannot be understated; family is at the core of the spirit of Thanksgiving. It is not often that the entire family gets together under one roof to celebrate with each other, so this is a really special and important time.
This week, we are encouraging our students to enjoy the company of their family. We are also challenging them to limit their screen use this Thursday, and try not to use them at all! Doing so will help them stay involved in the family gathering. Unless the living room TV is on to play the Parade or a Football game and the whole family is watching, we want our students to be present with their families. We also encourage our parents to try and limit screen time as well, and ask that you refrain from looking at or responding to emails or other work-related technologies. Staying present during Thanksgiving will truly allow the family to strengthen that special bond, and it’s important for parents to set the example for their children. Besides, you likely have the weekend off, so those emails can wait until Monday!
Again, we can’t emphasize enough how big of a role family plays in this Holiday. We hope you are all able to spend some precious time together with your families this Thursday, and create special memories that can only be made together!
In Our Classes…
This week, we are going to be teaching our students about the importance of Thanksgiving through our character talks each class. We will briefly go over the history and traditions of Thanksgiving, and highlight the major element of family. And again, we will be encouraging our students and parents to limit their use of screens as much as possible; unless the whole family can do it together, it can probably wait until after the Holiday is over.
In summary, Thanksgiving is important because of its history and traditions, and the fact that it’s a day to spend with your entire family. We hope everyone is able to get together with their loved ones and share a meal this Thursday. For more information on the history of thanksgiving, make sure to check out the History.com article. We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!
What other ways do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
What other traditions does your family follow?
How else can you spend quality time with your family?