25 November 2015. Reporter Sonja Meschkat spoke with American Space Director Crister Garrett about the meaning of Thanksgiving for Americans.
Professor Garrett noted it is the busiest travel holiday in the year for Americans, more so than say Christmas. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, it became a national holiday in 1863, declared as such by President Abraham Lincoln.
The turkey has always been a beloved bird in America. Even Benjamin Franklin had wanted to make it the official national bird, arguing it had more to do with the country than the bald eagle (he lost the debate as we know).
After feasting (and perhaps watching some football while relaxing on the sofa), millions of Americans head out the next day for “Black Friday”, for some time now the busiest shopping day of the year.
The first Thanksgiving is thought to have been celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims with the Wampanoag Indians, who played a critical role in helping the English settlers survive the regional harsh climate.
Giving thanks has remained at the heart of the holiday ever since.