What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving may be the most American holiday of all. It involves eating obscene amounts of food, yelling at your family (usually your in-laws), and watching hours of football on TV.

While that may seem like an average day for an American, Thanksgiving is unique.

The holiday falls on the final Thursday of November every year, and has its roots in the beginnings of the country itself. The first American settlers arrived in New England – the northeastern region of the United States. The Puritans, a group of religious zealots refugees, were not familiar with the land and climate in which they found themselves. While they were adept at being religious and pious, their first attempts to harvest fruits and vegetables were not great. Luckily, the indigenous people in the region, then called “Indians” because Americans are excellent at geography, were pretty good with the land. In an act of generosity, the native people helped the Puritans survive their first seasons in America by sharing their food and knowledge.

In return, Americans repaid the native peoples with guns and blankets, which contained exotic European diseases like cholera and smallpox. Americans like to commemorate this glorious cultural exchange by ‘giving thanks’ each November, despite the tragic and wholly avoidable fate of the indigenous people of America.

Typical Thanksgiving food includes: pumpkins, yams (sweet potatoes), cranberries and of course an enormous turkey. Scientists recently discovered that Turkey contains a chemical called tryptophan, which causes sleepiness, which explains some, but not all of the napping that Americans do on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving meals famously include leftovers for days or weeks after the meal, so you may be eating Turkey for a while. Most importantly, the President of the United States officially pardons a live turkey every year in a televised ceremony, signalling that the bird will not be eaten this year, unlike tens of thousands of his/her colleagues. Congratulations, Turkey.

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