All Things Thanksgiving: History, Crafts, Pumpkin Pie, and More!

Thanksgiving is one of the most important national holidays. In America, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. Kids get the day off from school to spend time with their families. Thanksgiving is about being grateful for food, shelter, and family. The holiday is about celebrating togetherness. Families participate in Thanksgiving customs, cook traditional foods, and enjoy fun activities and crafts.

The History of Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving feast was attended by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. When the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts, they didn’t know how to grow crops. They were used to farming in England, which has a different climate. The Native Americans, led by Squanto, taught the Pilgrims how to grow the “Three Sisters.” The “Three Sisters” are beans, corn, and squash. Without the Native Americans’ help, the Pilgrims would have starved during the harsh winter. The Pilgrims were grateful, so they invited the Native Americans to a feast to thank them for their help and celebrate the bountiful harvest.

Thanksgiving Traditions

Some Thanksgiving traditions are passed down from generation to generation. Many American families make it a tradition to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Thousands of paradegoers line the streets and watch marching band performances, Broadway musical numbers, and cartoon character floats. Millions more Americans watch the parade on TV. Popular features include the Tom Turkey float, a giant Pikachu balloon, and Santa Claus. Another tradition is to watch football. There are always college football and NFL games scheduled for Thanksgiving Day.

In the evening, families gather around the table for the Thanksgiving meal. Each family member might share what they are thankful for. After dinner, the wishbone from the turkey will be left to dry, and later, two children might be chosen to break the wishbone. Each child grabs an end, and the child who breaks off the longer end wins good luck for the rest of the year. If the wishbone breaks in half, both children will have good luck. But not all turkeys are eaten! Every year, the president is given a turkey to pardon. That lucky turkey will survive to see another Thanksgiving.

Other traditions at Thanksgiving center around giving other people something to be thankful for. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or with Habitat for Humanity translates thankful thoughts into service. And the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, when stores usually offer big sales on clothes and toys to launch the Christmas gift-buying season.

Yummy Thanksgiving Recipes

The Thanksgiving meal is the centerpiece of the day. The turkey is always the main course, but it’s surrounded by delicious side dishes. Common sides include mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Sometimes families will roast a ham to be eaten alongside the turkey; families with vegetarians might opt for a tofu “turkey.” Traditional Thanksgiving desserts are apple pie and pumpkin pie. It takes hours to prepare the Thanksgiving meal, but there are lots of recipes that kids can help with. Younger children can help mash the potatoes or add ingredients to the pies. Somehow, Thanksgiving dinner tastes even yummier when everyone gets a chance to cook. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be a fun activity for the whole family.

Activities, Crafts, and Games

Thanksgiving isn’t just about sitting around the television. Arts and crafts projects can keep kids busy and create fun decorations. Handprint turkeys are fun for preschoolers and younger children. Teenagers can help their siblings or craft their own projects, like homemade Thanksgiving placemats. The entire family can share in the fun and decorate a hand-painted Thanksgiving tablecloth or a holiday wreath for the front door. Board games and charades will keep everyone laughing late into the night, creating Thanksgiving memories for years to come.

More great recipes for you to make at home:

This page was last updated by Megan Miller