Today is one of the most important holidays in the American calendar. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday every November, Thanksgiving is one of the oldest feasts in the US, dating back to 1621 when settlers from England and a number of Native Americans feasted together to celebrate the first good harvest in the new country.
Today Thanksgiving is a good excuse for a huge feast. Some of the food served on this day across the USA is similar to that served when the pilgrims sat down to eat back in the seventeenth century with dishes including turkey, sweetcorn, and even pumpkin – often found today in the form of that very American dessert, pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving has attracted a number of other interesting traditions to it over the course of the last century. Every year in New York, thousands of families go to the streets or flock to their sofas to watch a parade organised by the world-famous department store Macy’s. Some of the parade floats feature bands, huge balloons, popular characters from fiction and the celebrity world and finish with the Santa Claus float to signal the beginning of the Christmas season. Smaller parades also take place in other cities and towns across the country. American Football matches on Thanksgiving Day is another popular pastime. Both professional sides and college teams play to mark the end of the football season.
Even if you don’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving or don’t know much about the fourth Thursday in November, it could be a great way to introduce American culture to your students and a good excuse to get them talking about food and celebrations across the world. And obviously if you do celebrate it, you’ll already be enthusiastic to tell your students about it! So to accompany a class based on this feast for lovers of food, history and Americana, why not take some inspiration from our onestopenglish Thanksgiving worksheets?
Or for lower levels use flashcards to talk about food, or take an activity like Food Race to get your students interacting with each other. You could even get them to make their own Thanksgiving menu and discuss it with their partners. If you use Macmillan English Campus try searching for the Food Around the USA web project for some web-based group work that ties in nicely with the topic of Thanksgiving. With these ideas and loads more at onestopenglish, the world is your oyster. Or should that be your turkey?