In the USA one of the most important festivals is Thanksgiving [E1] . Americans of all religions celebrate the first harvest of the English settlers in America nearly 400 years ago. They celebrate it on the fourth Thursday of November.
The tradition started with the first Pilgrims, who were the founders of America. The Pilgrims who sailed to this country were originally members of the English Separatist Church (a Puritan sect). A group of Dutch and English families sailed on the Mayflower [E1] [ES1] [F1] [I1] because of religious persecution. They wanted to start a new life in a new country where to practice their religion in freedom. The voyage was difficult and dangerous, many pilgrims died; they landed in December 1620 on the north-east coast of North America. They called this area Plymoth. [E1] [ES1]
It was winter and this area was a wilderness. They didnít have shelters and food, but Indians who had been living in this part of the country tried to help them. Finally spring came and they were able to grown their own crops: wheat, rye, oats, beans, carrots and onions. The Indians also had their own crops which the Pilgrim Fathers had never seen before: maize which the settlers called Indian corn and potatoes. By November 1621 everyone had food and a home. Thus Pilgrims decided to celebrate and thank God with a a feast, including 91 Indians who had helped them during their first year. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days. This was the first Thanksgiving dinner.
The tradition continues and nowadays the Thanksgiving meal is similar to the first. People eat roast turkey with cranberry sauce, potatoes, corn and pumpkin pie and also a dish called Succotash. [E1] This food is symbol [E1] of Thanksgiving Day celebration .
Class activity to test comprehension:
Are these sentences True or False?
1. Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Tuesday of November.
2. The tradition of Thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims.
3. The Pilgrims sail with a ship called Mayflower.
4. The Pilgrims landed in a place they called Plymoth.
5. Their first winter in Plymoth was very difficult.
6. The Indians did not help the Pilgrims.
Discuss with students:
Imagine you are the Governor of the Pilgrims who wants to convince Indians to participate at the first Thanksgiving dinner. What would you tell them?
Surfing the net:
Thanksgiving Crafts for kids