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Thanksgiving is a United States holiday that’s often misunderstood. In many American primary schools, it’s commonly taught to students that the traditional Thanksgiving is a celebration of the first successful harvest by the group known as the Pilgrims after their voyage to the “New World” of America.
As the tale goes, after settling in Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and the “Indians” — the term given to the Indigenous People of North America by arriving Europeans — shared a feast featuring turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.
More contemporary American Thanksgiving traditions include watching football, spending time with family, enjoying a parade,l and shopping at Black Friday sales — which sometimes start on Thanksgiving evening — always a Thursday — rather than actually on the following Friday.
Black Friday, of course, got its name because it’s the start of the season in which stores and businesses go from being “in the red” to “in the black” before the end of the fourth quarter. That’s one legend, anyway. In any case, it’s the “official” start of the holiday shopping season, and in the United States, stores are open early and stay open late. There have been stampedes when certain popular items go on sale, and for many shoppers, this is the chance to snag products that may otherwise be out of reach financially.
Many of the myths and stories that surround Thanksgiving are incorrect. The settlers from Europe did not live peacefully with the Native Americans, but rather engaged in many atrocities that should not be celebrated. In the United States, the Friday after Thanksgiving is now known as Native American Heritage Day. This is a time to reflect upon the misdeeds enacted upon the indigenous people by the settling Europeans, and to honour the heritage of the people who originally inhabited the continent.
For many North Americans, it’s important to mark this date and recognize that the Thanksgiving holiday was for a long time a day that was shrouded in whitewashing of the damage inflicted by Europeans. Reflecting on these truths on Native American Heritage Day is one small way to acknowledge this.
Despite its checkered reputation, Thanksgiving Day remains, in the United States, a day in which families gather to spend time together — whether they recognize the true origins of the holiday or not. It’s morphed into a national day of giving thanks marked by feasting and followed by shopping.
For better or worse, Thanksgiving can be relied upon to bring families together to eat, drink, argue, watch football, shop — and yes, reflect upon the gratitude they have for family and friends.
This year Thanksgiving traditions are getting back to normal after two years of pandemic living, during which families may have been separated. This means getting a little dressed up, baking your favorite type of pie, and making the journey — perhaps on the business travel day of the year — to your family home to share in the joys and groans of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Though Thanksgiving isn’t always thought of as a time to get dressed up, it's a great opportunity to put a bit more effort into your typical wardrobe. One option is to keep it long and loose, like with the Fiona dress — a festive pattern that won’t hug your tummy if you overindulge in stuffing! Pair it with some sparkle, like these earrings, and you’ll be ready to gather and give thanks.
More excited about watching the big game (or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade) than what’s on the menu? Choose something a little bit more casual, like a comfy, oversized knit and a good pair of jeans.
However you choose to celebrate, Thanksgiving is always a good time to reflect upon your own personal gratitude list.