linguapress

 Linguapress.com  Advanced level reading resources Intermediate reading resources English grammar online Language games and puzzles
Online resources for English studies : advanced    
Linguapress for mobiles - home page English Grammar Free advanced level resources Free intermediate level resourcess
linguapressAdvanced English
on your mobile
Linguapress for Mobiles


Click here to open vocabulary guide

USA - American life


Thanksgiving 

        - a very American festival

                Thanksgiving is perhaps the most American of America's festivals. While many countries have days when everyone eats a lot, only the Americans have a day on which they celebrate having enough to eat. Perhaps this may seem rather superfluous in a country whose inhabitants are today among the best-fed in the world; but to Americans, Thanksgiving is a reminder that this was not always the case.

The first Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving in 1621  - from a painting by JLG Ferris
   The last weeks of the year are a festive time in most countries; but while Europeans just celebrate Christmas and the New Year, Americans begin their festive season about a month earlier. The feast of Thanksgiving, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, is second only in importance to Christmas in the American calendar of feast days.
    Thanksgiving is the oldest non-Indian tradition in the United States, and was first celebrated in the year 1621. It was in this year that the men and women in Plymouth, one of the first New England colonies, decided to establish a feast day to mark the end of the farming year.
    As devout Protestants, they called their feast day "Thanksgiving", a day on which people could celebrate and give thanks to God for the crops that they had managed to grow and harvest. This was not in fact an original idea, but was based on the English "Harvest Festival", an old custom whereby people gave thanks to God once the crops were all in.
    In America however, a successful harvest was more significant than in England, for any failure to bring in an adequate supply of crops could be fatal for a new colony, struggling to set itself up in an alien continent. Several early North Americans colonies failed because the colonists were killed off by disease or fighting, and others perished because they did not have time to prepare enough land and grow enough food for their needs during the long cold winter months. The year 1621 was a particularly bountiful one for the Plymouth colonists, so they  "gave thanks" for their good fortunes.
    In the years that followed, other colonies introduced their own Thanksgiving festivals, each one at first choosing its own date, and many varying the date according to the state of the harvests. In 1789, President George Washington gave an official Thanksgiving Day address in honor of the new Constitution; and Thanksgiving Day, like Independence Day (July 4th) became one of America's great days.
    Nevertheless, at first the date was not fixed nationally; indeed, it was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving Day should be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Other presidents made similar proclamations, and the date of Thanksgiving tended to move around until the year 1941, when Congress and the President jointly declared that it should henceforth be fixed on the fourth Thursday of November. Since then, Thanksgiving Day has remained fixed.

    THANKSGIVING RITES

    Once a communal festival, where whole communities celebrated together, Thanksgiving is today the great family festival; but apart from that, it has not changed greatly.
    The heart of Thanksgiving is still the fruit of the land; and the Thanksgiving feast is based, essentially, on the native American foods that allowed the early settlers to survive: turkey, corn, potatoes and squash.
    The wild turkeys, large birds that lived in the forests of North America, were like a miracle for the early colonists who could trap them with ease; and turkey has always been the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast.
    Potatoes were unknown to Europeans before the discovery of North America, and it was Indians who taught the early colonists how to grow them and eat them.
    Maize, the great native North American cereal, is another ingredient of the Thanksgiving meal, eaten in the form of sweet corn.
    Finally, for dessert, no Thanksgiving meal is complete without "pumpkin pie", the traditional  tart made from pumpkins, enormous round orange types of squash.

WORDS:

devout: strict, pious - crops: plants that can be eaten - harvest : picking of fruit, or cutting of cereal crops -  custom: something done regularly - failure (n) : from the verb to fail, to not succeed - struggle: fight - disease: sickness - bountiful: abundant - address: speech - henceforth: from that time onwards - squash: vegetables such as courgettes (zucchini) and marrows.
 
Copyright notice.

This resource is © copyright Linguapress 1996 - 2017.   Originally published in Spectrum magazine.
This text may not be reproduced on other websites nor in printed form without written permission from the publishers. Reproduction is authorised exclusively for personal use by students, or for use by teachers with their classes.



 

Student worksheet  -  Thanksgiving
Rephrase the following sentences in your own words, starting with the prompt given:


1. Thanksgiving is second only in importance to Christmas in the American calendar of feast days.   
    Christmas is .........

2. Any failure to bring in an adequate supply of crops could be fatal for a new colony.
    A new colony ......

3. Turkey has always been the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast.
    Americans.....

4. Potatoes were unknown to Europeans before the discovery of North America.
    Until North America ................................. no-one ......

Put back the articles - the definite article the or the indefinite article a/an - when they are required in this extract from the text
 
______ last weeks of ______ year are ______ festive time in ______ most countries; but while ______ Europeans just celebrate _______ Christmas and _______ New Year, Americans begin their festive season about ______ month earlier. ______ feast of ______ Thanksgiving, celebrated on ______ fourth Thursday in ______November, is second only in ______ importance to ______ Christmas in ______ American calendar of _____ feast days.
    Thanksgiving is _______ oldest non-Indian tradition in ______ United States, and was first celebrated in _____ year 1621. It was in this year that _____ men and women in Plymouth, one of _____ first New England colonies, decided to establish _______feast day to mark ______ end of ______ farming year.

For the rules of article use, see https://linguapress.com/grammar/article-in-english.htm

 Question forming: Make up questions on the subject of Thanksgiving, beginning with the following openings:

Since when......

When .......

Who .....

How many .....

How often .....

Where ......

Why .....

What sort of .....

 . For teachers:

Articles cloze exercise
There are 24 blanks that students may need to fill in with an article. In most cases only one answer is possible; but in two cases two options are grammatically possible.  The meanings are obviously not quite the same, but it is important not to penalise students for proposing an answer that could, both logically and grammatically, be right.  Here is the text with the alternative acceptable wording added in red.  ( Ø) = no article.

The last weeks of the (a) year are a festive time in most countries; but while Europeans just celebrate Christmas and the New Year, Americans begin their festive season about a month earlier. The feast of Thanksgiving, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, is second only in importance to Christmas in the American calendar of feast days.
    Thanksgiving is the oldest non-Indian tradition in the United States, and was first celebrated in the year 1621. It was in this year that the ( Ø) men and women in Plymouth, one of the first New England colonies, decided to establish a feast day to mark the end of the farming year.

Question forming:
When students have made up their questions, divide them into pairs and have them answer each other's questions. Depending on the type of group or class, this can be eithe an oral or a written activity.Then have them swap questions with a friend, and answer each other's questions.

Classroom use.
Multi-copying
of this resource is permitted for classroom use.

© linguapress.com


 



Bookmark or share

A Linguapress.com
advanced level English resource

Level - Difficult.
CEFR  LEVEL :  C1
IELTS Level :  7
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:
44.8 - Difficult
 
Grade level: 12+

A selection of other resources in graded English
from Linguapress
Selected pages
Advanced level reading :
America's Amish
USA - Discovering Route 66
Americans fat and thin
Advanced level short stories:
Blue Gum Tree
Lucky Jim
And lots more:  More advanced reading texts  
Intermediate resources :
Mystery - the Titanic and the Temple of Doom
Who is James bond ?
Sport: Sports, American style
Big red London buses
USA: Who was Buffalo Bill?
USA: Close encounters with a Twister  
And more:  More intermediate reading texts  
Selected grammar pages
Online English grammar
Nouns in English
Word order in English
Reported questions in English
Miscellaneous
Language and style 
Themed crosswords for EFL
The short story of English

Text  © copyright Linguapress  1996-2017.
Updated from an article originally published in Spectrum magazine.
Photo: public domain from Library of Congress.

Reproduction is authorised exclusively for personal use by students, or for use by teachers with their classes.

Multi-copying of this resource is permitted for classroom use. In schools declaring the source of copied materials to a national copyright agency, Linguapress advanced level resources should be attributed to "Spectrum" as the source and "Linguapresss France" as the publisher.

 



Linguapress.com -
Free EFL reading resources



European law requires us to inform you that like most websites Linguapress uses cookies. To remove this message click   or otherwise click for more details