Thanksgiving marks the start of another holiday season, and reminds us of centuries old traditions. At the first Thanksgiving, Pilgrims shared an autumn harvest feast with Wampanoag Indians in 1621. For over two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by the colonies and states, until Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed a national holiday by President Lincoln in 1863.
Thanksgiving isn’t all about food. There’s the New York City parade of course, which has been going strong for the past eighty-nine years! The event has inspired Hollywood films and is watched by 3.5 million people every year. The origins of the parade started in 1924, as employees of Macy’s, also first-generation European immigrants, dressed up and paraded the streets with floats, professional bands and live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. The idea behind the parade was the celebration of a new American heritage with a festive European tradition.
Thanksgiving is also known for its infamous Black Friday. Did you know the name originated in Philadelphia to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the day after Thanksgiving? It wasn’t until the 1970s that Black Friday took on a new meaning—a time for retailers who operated at a financial loss all year, and were “in the red”—to go “in the black” during the holiday season.
Thanksgiving isn’t just an American holiday. It is celebrated on different days, and in ten other countries such as Canada, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, or Japan. In many cultures, harvest celebrations commemorate labor and production. Parades, large dinners, and beer fests are prevalent during that time of the year.
Cultural diversity has been embedded in this country since it was founded. Thanksgiving is therefore the perfect time to incorporate not just the All-American dinner ritual, but also to expand it to certain regional, ethnic, or cultural flavor.
So this year, let’s celebrate abundance by discovering our communities. Let’s travel millions of miles without leaving the table, and give thanks for all the good that the past year has brought us. Let’s enjoy friends and family time, and learn new traditions. Let’s embrace the diversity that makes our society, our city, our workplace so rich and fascinating.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!