Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving in a few weeks. Celebrating Thanksgiving in America can be confusing as an international student. We would like to share with you a little about the history of this holiday and what celebrating Thanksgiving in America typically looks like.
The Pilgrims initially came to America primarily to find religious freedom. They left England because King James I persecuted people who opposed the Church of England. The Pilgrims arrived in America in 1620, and many of them died that first winter. A few natives helped the rest of the Pilgrims survive. The harvest next year was better, so they celebrated with a feast.
The Pilgrims were very religious, and their celebrations typically consisted of prayer and thanksgiving to God. They recognized that everything they had been given – the help, the bountiful harvest, etc. – were gifts from God.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. This was decided by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, which is over 200 years after the Pilgrims first came. There had been Thanksgiving celebrations during those 200 years, but this is when it became nationally recognized.
We call this holiday Thanksgiving because it is a time of giving thanks to God because of all the blessings he has given us. Another tradition that some families have started is to take turns saying one thing they are especially thankful for this year. Some other traditions include playing or watching football, attending parades, shopping, watching movies or playing games, and more.
The common Thanksgiving food is based on the harvests in New England in the 18th and 19th centuries. It typically consisted of turkey, cranberries, vegetables, and a pumpkin dish. However, different areas of the United States add their own twist to the meal. Some people may make ham, corn bread, sweet potatoes, pecan pie, or other food.
Wherever you end up eating a Thanksgiving meal, expect a variety of options and a large quantity. This is typically the main meal for the day, and there are usually leftovers afterwards.
Family is an important part of celebrating Thanksgiving in America. Thanksgiving may be the only (or one of the only) time(s) that families may see each other that year. Many people now live far away from their families, but they will make sure to be with them during this holiday.
Thanksgiving is usually considered the busiest travel time of the year. People usually drive or fly to spend time with their family they may not see very often.
If you are traveling to visit a loved one or if a loved one is coming to visit you this Thanksgiving, then please travel safely. We offer very affordable travel insurance plans that will help keep you safe this holiday season. If you are visiting your student in the United States, then we recommend the Patriot America Plus travel insurance found here: https://www.goodinternationalstudentinsurance.com/travel-insurance-family-visiting-student-u-s/
We sincerely hope that celebrating Thanksgiving in America is something you are able to do during your time as an international student. If you are unsure where you could experience Thanksgiving, ask your friends, faculty, or an advisor, and they may be able to help you find a Thanksgiving celebration. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Have amazing and safe travels!