celebration is an American tradition that dated as far back as the early 17th
century when the first Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, in what is now the state
of Massachusetts, in search of religious freedom. They had difficult times adapting
to the difficult life and the cold, harsh weather in their new world. A Native American
tribe helped and taught them how to farm and hunt to survive the brutal
So those who survived the first
difficult years held harvest festivals and religious celebrations in 1621 to
give thanks to God, and to the American Indians who helped them by inviting
the native Americans to join in the feasts that went on for many days. These events formed the
basis of the holiday that Americans now celebrate.
Day has different meanings to people in the US, but for most it is the day they
celebrate the happy times and giving thanks. The day is celebrated in virtually
the same way. Family members come together to celebrate, to eat and just have
fun. The main dishes for the evening meal would be roasted turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry
sauce, massed potato, yam, pumpkin and apple pies, and a lot of vegetables, corn, corn bread and all.
Joel Upton from Livingston, Tennessee, summarizes it this way, “Thanksgiving
at my family was always a time when brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles,
cousins, we all got together. And someone would bring different dishes. Someone
would bring the sweet potatoes. Someone would bring the meat. Someone would
bring the dressing. And we would all sort of combine the efforts to have a
family Thanksgiving dinner and bring out the good china for that particular
event. And Thanksgiving also, in my
early days when I was a child, the kids would all get to play, maybe we hadn't
seen each other for a while. The men would always watch a football game on TV.
And Thanksgiving was just a really, really special time. And, of course, we had
in mind the Pilgrims and what it was all about too. But it was a family
who came to the United States in the mid 70’s and early 80’s have also adopted
this tradition to give thanks to this great country for providing them a new
home and new life.
For our special
Thanksgiving report, we asked two Laotian-Americans how they celebrate Thanksgiving
in their bi-cultural world.
of Michigan, a Laotian married to an American, told VOA that “Thanksgiving is
the time to give thanks, to give back to the community. I thank America for the
opportunity to come and make this land a new home. I have two children. Their
father would teach them how to prepare the turkey and have a fun time together.
As for me, I have my older parents with me; and they enjoy Lao food. So I would
cook the traditional Lao food for them. We celebrate both culture and
Sotakoun and her family in Corona, California, said “I have a large family; we
have to break into two parts, we would have a Thanksgiving dinner on the
weekend with my family side. Then on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I would go to
my husband’s side to celebrate. We have to share both sides. This is the time
that we get together to be with each other and just have fun. We cook both Lao
and American food; that way we can enjoy both.”
and cities across the country celebrate Thanksgiving Day in different ways. But
the biggest and most famous celebration takes place in New York City, with Macy’s
Thanksgiving Day parade, which is well-known for its spectacular floats with
marching bands, music and huge floating balloons in the shape of famous cartoon
characters, to the delight of children.
Listen to any audio files for a whole story of Thanksgiving.