Thanksgiving: An American Tradition

Thanksgiving: An American Tradition

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, we’ve been discussing the American holiday in our classrooms here at Optimus Language School. As a tradition that our international students are typically not very familiar with, it is a great source of conversation where our students can learn more about our teachers and about the United States as well. Many of our student’s host families will be celebrating the holiday, so we want to stop and take the time to explain what the holiday means for many families across the country.

The origin of the holiday can be controversial.  Many American students are taught at a young age that Thanksgiving commemorates a feast between Native Americans and the Europeans that initially discovered North America. This explains the tradition of eating a big meal on Thanksgiving Day, but the fact of the matter is that interactions between Europeans and Native Americans were not as friendly as today’s Americans may have been lead to believe from a young age. These facts withstanding, the modern meaning of the holiday is a bit different than it used to be. Nowadays, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and to reflect on what we are most thankful for. This time we spend with our loved ones is built around something we can all appreciate: good food!

It is no secret that Thanksgiving revolves around the dinner table. The most noteworthy part of the holiday comes around dinner time when many different kinds of food go together to create a feast. Turkey is the obvious centerpiece of the event, and poultry preparation often begins the night before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, the turkey is surely the most labor intensive process of the cooking responsibilities; diligent watching and basting is imperative throughout the process to keep the turkey from ending up dry and tasteless! Stuffing is a common Thanksgiving staple that usually accompanies the turkey. Made from small pieces of bread, onions, and celery, stuffing gains its name from the way that it is used to fill up the inside of the turkey while it cooks. Juices from the bird soak into the bread pieces while it cooks as well, making for a soft and tasty treat that compliments the turkey perfectly.

No Thanksgiving would be complete without a healthy serving of side dishes. Aside from turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy are the second duo that grace most every American table during this November holiday.As the name implies, mashed potatoes are potatoes mixed with cream and butter that have been mashed down into a thick paste like consistency. Made with flour, the leftover juice from the turkey, and a handful of spices, gravy is a brown savory sauce that goes perfectly on top of mashed potatoes, and on top of turkey for that matter as well. Green bean casserole is another common Thanksgiving dish where green beans, crispy onions, and mushroom soup are mixed together and baked in the oven. While the combination may sound odd, it’s a delicious treat you shouldn’t pass up! Dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and common vegetables such as carrots, peas, and corn are other common entries to the Thanksgiving table, that is, if you still have room on your plate!

Thanksgiving is a holiday designed around food where Americans spend time with friends and family and take time to think about what it is that they are thankful for in their lives. We hope that our short summation of the celebration has cleared up some questions for all of our international students travelling from all over the world to come and study here in the Orange County area. From the Americans that have been celebrating the holiday all their lives, to international students just learning of the holiday, all of us here at Optimus Language School wish you a happy Thanksgiving!


Published on November 22, 2016

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