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Last Updated: Nov 2nd, 2011 - 23:56:29 

History & Lore

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving
By Diaa Bekheet
Oct 30, 2011, 11:21 PST

Photo courtesy of martha_chapa95/Flickr CC2.0
On the fourth Thursday of every November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Airports and roads are jammed. More than 40 million Americans travel from state to state to celebrate the holiday. On Thanksgiving Day, Americans give thanks for the blessings of the past year. They feast, celebrate, and play games.

One woman, Lisa Seligman, who is hosting a large thanksgiving dinner explains, "Everybody in the family: my two sisters, my two brothers and all of their families, we have the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables, all the cakes and pies after the turkey dinner. We usually eat kind of late. I think a lot of people here have their turkey dinner at around 3pm in the afternoon or so, earlier in the day. But we always have it a little later like 5pm or so, then dad watches the (American football) game."

In most of the United States, it would not be Thanksgiving dinner without turkey. Food warehouses offer a wide variety of turkey. Children especially love this delicious holiday food. "As a child, I just remember the turkey dinner Mom used to make," recalls Ms. Seligman. "That was kind of not traditional for the American way of Thanksgiving because mom would make her dressing from her Canadian type dressing from Newfoundland, so ours is always a little different."

The Internet is now jammed with a wide range of sites that offer the ultimate collection of tips, pointers, and suggestions to help you prepare a Thanksgiving feast, whether it is deep fry, roast, grill or smoking a turkey.

The biggest Thanksgiving celebration of all is the spectacular parade organized in New York City by Macy's, which bills itself as the world's largest department store. Many people brave the cold, the wind, and thousands of other spectators to attend the annual parade. Millions of others in the United States and around the world watch the parade on television. Giant balloons shaped like animals and cartoon characters float above the streets, and bands from high schools nationwide march in the parade.

Jeanne McFadden, Macy's Parade Executive in New York City during 2004, said, "...Macy's 74th Thanksgiving Day parade. It is going to be bigger and better than ever. We have 35 fabulous floats in the parade, including six brand new ones. One of the new floats," she says, "is a float that celebrates Hawaii's fabulous recreation of the gigantic seashell, topped with a flaming volcano and on board are Hawaiian dancers."

Ms. McFadden said that among the children's character balloons are Dudley the dragon, Barney the dinosaur, Sonic the Hedgehog and other characters mingled with oddities such as Mickey Mouse who will be carrying a 30-foot long baton. New balloons and characters taking place in the parade this week include Dragon Tale Cassie, and the Three Little Pigs.

The first parade started in 1927. Many of Macy's workers who emigrated from Europe had happy memories of holiday festivals in Europe. So they decided to hold a public celebration on Thanksgiving Day. Colorful parade marchers dressed up as cowboys, cowgirls, knights in armor, giants, and clowns. The parade always ends with the arrival of Santa Claus at Macy's on his own float. His arrival marks the start of the Christmas season.

Ms. Seligman says watching the parade has been part of her family tradition for years. "Santa comes down the street, that is the highlight. When we were kids we would watch the whole thing just to see Santa at the end, and now my kids do the same."

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