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THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS - PART 1 TURKEY
Thanksgiving takes place in the USA on the fourth Thursday in November, every year. It is a time when families gather together to celebrate and to give thanks for everything they have. It is one of the most important National holidays and dates back to the time of the Pilgrim Fathers, and the first settlers in the USA, who faced enormous difficulties when they first landed, and who gave thanks for their survival against all odds.
Various traditions have grown up around the Thanksgiving holiday, and one rather amusing one is the presentation by the National Turkey Federation of a turkey to the President of the United States. This tradition apparently started in 1947, when they presented one live turkey and two dressed turkeys in a ceremony called the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. The live turkey is then pardoned by the President and allowed to live out its days on a farm. Recently, two live turkeys have been given, both of which are pardoned. The President accepts the gifts in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. Since 2003, the public have been given the chance to choose the names for the two turkeys. The first names chosen were, aptly, Stars and Stripes. These were followed by Biscuit and Gravy, Marshmallow and Yam, Flyer and Fryer and May and Flower. These two turkeys are then flown first class on United Airlines planes from Washington DC to Disneyland in California. At yet another ceremony the two lucky turkeys become Grand Marshals of Disneyland’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade on Main Street. The turkeys then live out their lives at Disneyland’s Frontierland Ranch.
Whilst many people go out to celebrate various occasions during the year, it is more common for families to spend Thanksgiving at home and to eat a home-cooked meal. The traditional Thanksgiving meal features, of course, a baked or roasted turkey. Indeed, it is sometimes referred to as ‘Turkey Day. ’ To accompany this there is usually cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cornbread, sweet potatoes and gravy. An essential component of the meal is pumpkin pie. All of these items are actually native to America, and were new to the settlers when they arrived.
According to the National Turkey Federation, 95% of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving, and Minnesota is the top turkey producing state in America, producing 49 million in 2008. It is estimated that 46 million turkeys will be eaten at Thanksgiving. There are five other states which produce most of the turkeys raised in the US, and these are Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas and Missouri.
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