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Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in USA and second Monday of October in Canada. This is not just a public holiday, but also one of the most beloved and popular American celebrations: according to the tradition, on this day, several generations of the family gather at one table for dinner. Besides, thanksgiving in the United States opens the winter holiday season that includes Christmas and New year.
The history of the holiday
Thanksgiving is one of the oldest American holidays, its appearance is related to the first settlers from England arrived in the New world on the ship “Mayflower”. After months of a hard voyage the settlers reached America in November 1620, and immediately faced a harsh winter.
In the first winter on the new continent more than half of the settlers died of cold, hunger and disease. The survivors founded the Plymouth colony, the oldest English settlement in America, and with the help of the local Indians started to cultivate the land. The reward for these works was unexpectedly bountiful harvest and the first Governor William Bradford decided to hold in the fall of 1621 thanksgiving to the Lord for the harvest and the help of Indians.
At the festive table, the elders of the colony invited the local Indians of the tribe of Wampanoag who helped settlers to survive. The Indians brought with them four strange birds, later called turkeys — and this meal was the first thanksgiving.
The first settlers were puritans, deeply religious Christians. They saw in this festival a deeper meaning, an opportunity to thank God for his mercy. However, later in the United States and Canada, this holiday has largely lost its religious significance and became a national civil ceremony.
After independence, the young country needed its own holidays and traditions, and the first President George Washington in 1789, signed a decree about the celebration of thanksgiving as a national holiday every year on November 26. In 1864, after the Civil war, Abraham Lincoln declared thanksgiving the last Thursday in November of each year, and in 1941 the United States adopted the bill, the legislation approved the date of the celebration.
The tradition of celebrating
The main tradition of thanksgiving is a celebratory dinner, which brings together several generations of one family in the house of elders. In front of him many Americans the whole family attend service in the Church. Often this festival is the only event of the year, which allows to gather together all the relatives. For a festive meal each pronounces the words of thanksgiving for all the good that happened in his life this year.
The second tradition is the festive table — the day Americans eat the same thing that ate their ancestors in the distant 1621, at the first dinner in honor of thanksgiving. Main dishes include stuffed Turkey and pumpkin pie became the culinary synonyms of the holiday.
Holiday parades, usually in suits of the first settlers of the XVII century and Indians — this is another constant attribute of thanksgiving. The largest parade is held in new York city, its main attraction serve as inflatable toys of enormous size. This parade, held since 1927 largest Macy’s Department store, runs from Central Park to the entrance to the store near Herald square. In the end, over the Strait of the East river enjoy a fireworks show.
Also on the eve of thanksgiving, it is customary to give charity, to feed and please the needy, charitable organizations to distribute the gifts for the homeless provide a free lunch. Even the subway stations are installed tables on which to put their donations for the poor and homeless.
The next day after the holiday season opens Christmas sales in the stores and on the Internet — this day is called “black Friday”.

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