Hi Joe! Welcome back to VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous! Could you give us a brief look at the history of Thanksgiving holiday?
Hello everyone! It is wonderful to be here. I am really excited to share with you thanksgiving, American culture, and some of my own family photographs. The first Thanksgiving happened a long time ago, about 1620. Basically, a group of men, women, and children left England looking for a better place to live. They decided to travel by ship and the ship’s name was the May Flower. Those people were called “Pilgrims”. Pilgrims means travelers. They sailed to North America, which is present day Plymouth. They met some Native Americans, integrated and shared food and feast, gave thanks to the new life, their new friends, and the new situation.
How do the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving nowadays?
The Thanksgiving that we are celebrating today is obviously much different than it was at the beginning. I am sure at the beginning, it was very basic. There was not a lot of food. Life in early America, before the United States came a country, was not easy. Basically the tradition of making food and coming together with friends and family certainly has continued.
When do the Americans officially celebrate Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of every November, so it is never the same date every year, like Christmas or Halloween. One year, it can be the 23rd, one year it can be the 27th, maybe the 25th, but it must be the fourth Thursday of November. The way my family celebrates it is a little bit different because we usually have a lot of people coming. Sometimes we rent a house and sometimes we go to one place but we need a lot of space, a lot of rooms. Depends on your job, but most Americans, they finish work on Wednesday or maybe they take a half day off so they can begin traveling. Thanksgiving weekend or holiday is the second busiest travel holiday of the year in the US after Christmas time. Everyone is traveling, so it is more expensive obviously.
Can you share with us about how your family usually celebrates Thanking holiday?
A lot of people, my family included, we actually start celebrating the night before, Wednesday evening. They come, they eat, but not the Turkey. It is the way for people to come together so they can wake up Thursday morning and they can enjoy a full day together. But for some families, because they are busy, they only meet Thursday evening or afternoon for a few hours. It just depends. My family, we like to extend the holiday so Wednesday night until Saturday or sometimes Sunday.
|Thanksgiving table (Photo: Joe Fitzsmmons)
It is a wonderful time for all of the family members to get together after such a long time. Now, let’s talk about the big event, the Thanksgiving dinner. What are some signature dishes for the big dinner on Thursday?
Well, there is obviously Turkey with the dark meat and the light meat. When you carve the turkey, you separate the light and the dark meat. Usually, the kids want the light meat and the adults like both. When you get older, you will appreciate the flavor of the dark meat more, that is an important element of Thanksgiving dinner, the light and the dark meat. But in my opinion, and I think many people’s opinion, turkey is not the most important part of Thanksgiving. I think it is a symbol of Thanksgiving: the turkey. But a really good Thanksgiving dinner has a lot of side dishes like vegetables, potatoes, gravy, green beans, brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower. Then you have mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. We cut the sweet potatoes and put butter in. For the potatoes and turkey, there is gravy, which is the sauce, you just pour on your turkey and mashed potatoes. It is really good. Gravy is very important, and you get the gravy from the fats and juices of the turkey. And we have stuffing which is what the kids love the most. There is a cranberry sauce made with the cranberry fruit.
|The dark and white Turkey meat (Photo:Joe Fitzsmmons)
So Yummy! I can imagine a table full of food in front of me now. And of course I know that dessert is also the big part of the dinner, right?
And then for dessert there are pumpkin pie, corn pie, sweet potato pie, apple pie, I am getting hungry just talking to you about it. So we eat a lot for Thanksgiving dinner. There is also a lot of bread and, in particular, corn bread so there are some corn dishes too.
|Pumkin Pie (Photo: Internet)
I guess it is difficult for everybody to finish all that food on that night, right?
Yes, and we eat leftover for days. Especially if you have a lot of people coming, this is important to ask each guest about what they will bring. It is not required but there is an organization, so there is some planning. People don’t show up just say “Hey, I bought this or that”. No, no, no! So you organize and designate like I am doing the Turkey, and you are doing the potatoes, you are doing dessert… And there are so many things to eat. We eat leftovers for days, Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday.
Oh, I almost forget to ask. What about the drinks?
The adults like to have wine, Champaign, and beer. Beer is very popular but for the children, they have kiddy Champaign. It is like sparkling cider, just like apple juice with carbonation and no alcohol. It is really good.
Thank you very much Joe for talking to us today about Thanksgiving dinner. Joe will be back next week with more things about Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. So remember to tune into VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous, I’m Minh My. Hope to catch you guys again soon!