Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Thanksgiving. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Thanksgiving. Mostrar todas las entradas

Giving Thanks (or the other way round)

Hi everyone!!! Two weeks ago we explored the origin and the meaning of Halloween, making it clear that it was born among pagan communities in Ancient Times as a tradition to celebrate the end of harvest, as well as to frighten bad spirits and warn them to leave the community alone during the harsh winter. So now it is time to learn about another Anglo-Saxon celebration that will take place within the next few days: Thanksgiving. The funny thing is that Thanksgiving was born with the same spirit.

In the 16th century King Henry 8th of England, who had just made himself head of his own Church, departing from the large embrace of Catholicism, decided to create a celebration that would serve three purposes: first, it would be a more familiar way than Halloween to give thanks for the prosperous harvest, gathering all the families together by the warmth of fuming chimneys in order to share a delicious and loving dinner; second, Thanksgiving would equalise the amount of holidays in the Anglican and the Catholic calendar; finally, the new holiday would evidence the power of the English King at the head of the Anglican church against the Roman Pope, its main antagonist in the European continent shaken by the spirit of the Council of Trent.

As it often happens with the institutionalisation of every celebration, doubtlessly Thanksgiving soon overcame the British Crown’s expectations and it became so popular that the Pilgrims that fled Great Britain in the 1620s and the 1630s brought the tradition with them to North America. There are different opinions on when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the British colonies that later became the United States of America, though everyone may have seen the typical image of a Pilgrim family sharing their food with the American Indians in Plymouth by 1621. But leaving such irrelevant details apart, the most important thing about Thanksgiving is that it has become a familiar event in every house in the Anglo-Saxon world, regardless of each one’s beliefs, since it is now considered as an excuse to share time with relatives and friends and enjoy some intimate moments before going back to the stress of everyday.


With your permission I will tell my personal story concerning Thanksgiving. I must confess that in my youth I had always approached it with some prejudice, as I was not really aware of its meaning and I was afraid that it is another pretext to make us spend our money. However, when I was in London four years ago I had the chance to celebrate it at the house of the family with which I was living. It was a rather humble and discreet celebration, but it was enough to make me conceive good feelings towards it. One year later I was living in New York and my landlady, a loving Colombian woman, took me to her brother’s place to share thanksgiving with a representation of the Colombian community in the state of New Jersey. As you can guess, the new experience was radically different from the previous one, but even so it made me learn to appreciate more and more the affective element of that day. Finally, when one year later I celebrated it in Pittsburgh with many Spaniards that had gone there to work, the same as me, I had already fallen in love with Thanksgiving: it has always given me the chance to feel like home every time that I have been abroad. I hope everyone will find the same meaning in it, and I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Autor: Antonio Jesús Pinto
Profesor en 121 Conversation. Es Doctor en Historia Contemporánea. Ha vivido en Londres, Nueva York y Pittsburg. Tiene una amplia experiencia como profesor de inglés. Por su  experiencia y su formación profesional, dice estar "convencido que mis clases ayudarán al alumno a coger soltura y a tener más confianza en si mismo a la hora de hablar el inglés".