- When did Thanksgiving start? The first Thanksgiving in the land that later became the U. S. was in 1621. It became a national holiday in 1863, during the Civil War. The first Thanksgiving in what became Canada was in 1578.
Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1879.
- Whose idea was it? In the U. S. , settlers called the Pilgrims decided to thank God for their first harvest. In Canada, Martin Frobisher, an English explorer, gave thanks for a safe voyage.
- Who were the Pilgrims? A pilgrim is someone who makes a trip for religious reasons. The Pilgrims who held the first Thanksgiving were strict Protestants, who came to North America because they felt they could not live holy lives in Europe.
- Why is turkey part of the dinner? Turkey is native to the Americas, like many of the other foods eaten at Thanksgiving.
It became a Thanksgiving tradition in the early 19th century.
- What's stuffing? It's a mixture of dry breadcrumbs and spices, put in the inside of the turkey before it's cooked. It can also contain vegetables, nuts, and even meat or fish. You can buy instant stuffing at the supermarket.
- Do North Americans eat turkey at any other times? Many think of turkey as something only for special occasions. For example, many families have turkey for Christmas. Others try to eat it more often - for example, in sandwiches.
- What is the horn full of fruit that you see in decorations? It's a cornucopia (horn of plenty) that's a symbol of the harvest.
- Why do we celebrate the harvest when most of us aren't farmers? We remember the times when most people in North America grew their own food. And we think of the good things in our lives for the past year.
- Why does the President of the U. S.
“pardon" a turkey every Thanksgiving? This is something that's done to make people feel good on the holiday. Nobody knows how or when it began. The turkeys are sent to live on farms.
- What is “Black Friday"? The day after U. S.
Thanksgiving, when lots of people begin their Christmas shopping. No one knows why it's called “black". It may be because the malls are so crowded, it's unpleasant to be there.
It may be because, on that day, stores can be sure they're “in the black" - not losing money.
Jane Wangersky is an ESL teacher and the author of Thanksgiving for Beginners. To get her free eBooklet, 50 Questions and Answers About Thanksgiving, visit her site, Thanksgiving Tips for ESL Learners .