Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year in the United States. It started as a harvest festival and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789. The most important part of Thanksgiving for American families is to spend family time together.
“My favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Firstly, it was my first holiday with the whole family in America. Secondly, the whole family came together. All aunts and uncles and their kids came to grandma’s. We played football with all of them, including grandma and grandpa. It was the first time I played it and it was so much fun for all. We had a great dinner with all the typical things you can imagine … it was deeeelicious! It was so great to be with such a big family and I really enjoyed that day. I will remember it my whole life, I hope.” – Swantje from Germany
Here are a few tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.
Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.
If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend, so they may make plans. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans, so I can assist.
Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.
Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cookies. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Even though a few other countries also celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s still considered a uniquely American holiday, one that the au pairs look forward to experiencing. You can learn more about it here.
“I really enjoyed Thanksgiving with my host family. It was as I imagined! So much food to try. Everyone got dressed up and shared what they were thankful for. It was so warm and special. The next day we began to prepare for Christmas. It was magical.” Selina from Germany
Below you will find some tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.
1. Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. Thanksgiving with an au pair offers an opportunity to consider the relevance of the history and meaning of Thanksgiving as you compare the hospitality offered by the Native Americans to the recently arrived Pilgrims and the hospitality you offer your au pair.
2. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.
3. If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend. It is considered rude in America to accept the invitation for dinner and then change your mind later in the month. Please be thoughtful.
4. Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.
5. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans. You may be able to join a friend and their host family for the holiday dinner.
Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cupcakes. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.
Photo: Tim Sackton (Flickr)
Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1863 when Lincoln became the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving Day. The holiday has been a fixture of late November ever since. The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church. They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America.
The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. They lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast – including 91 native Americans who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the native Americans. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival and lasted three days.
It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving today. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies’ Magazine, and later, in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale’s obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
In 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
To Learn more about the history and traditions of this holiday go to:
http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/videos#history-of-the-thanksgiving-holiday. Find fun activities to do with the children here:
In the spirit of Thanksgiving several au pairs and host families joined their Community Counselor, Patty Antreasian, for an afternoon volunteering at Our Daily Bread in Baltimore. The event was sponsored by the United Way, and we prepared hundreds of casseroles, desserts and snack bags to be distributed to families in need. Our group not only had a lot of fun but also felt that it was a very rewarding experience. We will definitely do this again next year!
Thanksgiving in the United States is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November. It is often thought of as a particularly American holiday because of the story of the Pilgrims and the Indians. You will find, however, that most cultures, religions, and/or countries have some kind of a holiday that involves giving thanks. Many of them are associated with harvest time. Some of them are still celebrated as separate holidays.
In ancient times the Hebrews had a feast at which they gave thanks to God for their harvest. It was called Sukkot and Jews still celebrate it today. The ancient Greeks had a harvest festival in honor of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. They brought gifts of honey, fruit and grain to her shrines. The Romans honored Ceres, the goddess who protected their crops. They called it the festival of Cerelia, and that is where the word “cereal” is derived. For hundreds of years the Chinese have celebrated a festival of the harvest moon. This brightest moon of the year shines on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival is called the Mid-Autumn Festival. The Vietnamese call this festival Tet Trung Thu. Koreans celebrate it as Chu-Sok. People in Southern India celebrate at least 2 harvest festivals, Onam in the fall and Pongal in the midwinter. Onam is a harvest festival associated with the legendary King Mahabalia. Pongol is the celebration of the rice harvest, the biggest festival of the year. In England, the thanksgiving celebration was called Harvest Home. It took place when the last field was harvested and the crops were brought safely to the barns. Thanksgiving has also been celebrated in Canada for a long time. It probably began many years before the Pilgrims landed in America.
So when the Pilgrims did land in their new home on December 21, 1620, they already knew about the ceremonies of thanksgiving. They had, of course, come from England and were familiar with the custom of giving thanks after the harvest. So, one year later, after a year of terrible hardship and frighteningly little success, Governor William Bradford proclaimed the first day of Thanksgiving in the Plymouth Colony. This was the feast day that many think of when we hear “the first Thanksgiving.” It was the one shared with the Indians, who had helped the Pilgrims and introduced them to the native foods and strange farming practices of the New World.