On this occasion, which always falls on the fourth and last Thursday of November, relatives and friends from different areas of the United States do everything they can to gather around a table laden with the typical dishes of this feast to thank God for what they received during the year just passed.
But why do Americans care so much about this holiday that they are willing to cross the country to spend it with loved ones and what are the ancient origins of Thanksgiving?
The origin of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621 and is directly connected to the events of the Pilgrim Fathers. It all originated in England with the Anglican Church, when some fundamental principles that constituted it were questioned by the religious group of the Pilgrim Fathers who, for this reason, began to be persecuted and, to escape this persecution, a large group of them decided to embark for the New World on the famous English ship called Mayflower which landed on the coast of present-day Massachusetts.
Here they found lands inhabited until then only by Native Americans and, above all, a wild territory and very harsh winter temperatures that put them to the test so much that many of them were unable to survive the winter. The Pilgrim Fathers had brought with them some seeds of the products they used to consume in England, but such a different climate and soil did not allow them to take root and offer food to feed on. Thanks to the help of the indigenous populations, the Pilgrim Fathers managed to obtain a good harvest with a lot of corn, beans, barley and pumpkins and they survived the winter. Given the abundance of the products collected, they decided to celebrate to thank God with a special prayer for having granted them health and food in abundance. To this feast they also invited the natives who had helped them to survive in that new land and with them they had wild turkeys and roast venison, cornbread, blueberries, walnuts, pumpkin and other foods that remained in the American tradition, especially for Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving tradition wants it to be celebrated at home - rarely, therefore, people go to the restaurant - in the company of loved ones and closest friends who are willing to travel miles and miles.
It is not unusual to offer food and attention to neighbors or less fortunate people, precisely because it is a very supportive and community friendly celebration.
Undoubtedly, the undisputed protagonist of Thanksgiving day is the turkey which cannot be missing from the Thanksgiving table and which must weigh at least 10 pounds to feed about fifteen people.
Each family has its own personal recipe and that special ingredient which makes the dish unique and recognizable to the palates of the family members, but, in general, the turkey is stuffed with plenty of spices, vegetables, mushrooms, berries, prunes, nuts and breadcrumbs.
Once cooked, it is dressed with a gravy which is obtained from the cooking of the turkey and by blending together the vegetables cooked in a pan with it and its innards.
The turkey is served whole at the table to make a fine show of itself and then cut into pieces and offered with side dishes such as sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, turnips, beets and corn on the cob with melted butter.
Banana bread is often cooked for Thanksgiving too. It is obtained by mixing together banana chunks, eggs, butter and sugar. Everything is mixed well in a bowl which will be left to cook in the oven for about an hour.
Other characteristic desserts present on the Thanksgiving table are the pumpkin pie or the apple pie, which everyone knows, or the pecan pie, a delicious tart enriched on the surface with pecan nuts and maple syrup.
It was an incredible and delicious experience to celebrate my first American Thanksgiving in Austin even if I just had a small celebration with my housemates!