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Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. It is a holiday celebrated primarily in Canada and the United States.
The American Thanksgiving began as a feast of thanksgiving almost four hundred years ago. In 1620, a religious Puritan community sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in the New World. They settled in what is now known as the state of Massachusetts.
Their first winter in America was difficult. They arrived too late to grow a rich harvest. Moreover, half the colony died from disease. The following spring the Iroquois Indians taught them how to grow corn. Indians showed them also how to grow other crops and how to hunt and fish.
In the autumn of 1621 they got a beautiful harvest of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins. The colonists had much to be thankful for, so they planned a feast. Local Indian chief and ninety Indians were present. The colonists learned from Indians how to cook cranberries and dishes of corn and pumpkins.
In following years many of the colonists celebrated the harvest with a feast of thanks. After the United States gained independence, Congress recommended one yearly day of thanksgiving for the whole country. Later, George Washington suggested the date November 26 as Thanksgiving Day. Then, after the Civil war, Abraham Lincoln suggested the last Thursday in November to be the day of thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving Day, family members gather at the house of an older relative, even if they live far away. All give thanks for everything good they have. Charitable organizations offer traditional meal to the homeless.
Foods, eaten at the first thanksgiving, have become traditional. The traditional thanksgiving meal consists of roast turkey stuffed with herb-flavoured bread, cranberry jelly, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie. Other dishes may vary as to region: ham, sweet potatoes, creamed corn.