The traditional American holiday Thanksgiving originated as day to celebrate and give thanks for the season's bountiful harvest. And for many Americans, Thanksgiving means eating roasted turkey and mashed potatoes, spending time with family and prepping for the holiday shopping season. VOA's Brian Allen has more.
Each year, the holiday begins with the president pardoning two turkeys from becoming someone's Thanksgiving dinner. President Harry Truman started the tradition in 1947.
President George W. Bush stated, "So now I have a task and that is to grant a full presidential pardon to May and Flower that will shortly be flown off to Disney World, where they will serve as honorary grand marshals for the Thanksgiving Day parade. I hope that honor doesn't go to their heads," he said.
Last year's turkeys were May and Flower, a reference to the ship that sailed nearly 400 years ago from Plymouth, England to America. And in the fall of 1621, these Plymouth pilgrims celebrated a bountiful harvest with local American Indians.
Since the 1600s, Thanksgiving has morphed into a holiday in the United States marked by extravagant parades, feasts and the opening of the Christmas shopping season. The Macy's Day Parade in New York is one of the major festivities to mark Thanksgiving each year. Approximately 2.5 million people are expected to attend the parade this year, while 44 million will watch it on television at home.
The parade serves as a reminder that the holiday season is in full swing. This Friday, many Americans will rise early the day after Thanksgiving to take advantage of discounts at retail shops around the country. Last year, the National Retail Federation estimates more than 60 million people shopped that day.