Thanksgiving in Birmingham

This term, as a member of the the North American Cultural Society at UoB the celebrations surrounding American Thanksgiving have made me feel like Christmas has come early! This is certainly the case across the pond, with the fourth Thursday in November marking the beginning of the festive season and the chaotic events of Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) firmly signifying the start of mass present buying.

This year in particular, I felt overwhelmed with Thanksgiving updates on all forms of social media.

This year in particular, I felt overwhelmed with Thanksgiving updates on all forms of social media. As someone with an obsession and continual fascination with all things American, I was completely okay with it! The invasion of the Macy’s Parade Snapchat story allowed everyone with the app all over the world to see all the activities in Manhattan as well as the events of Black Friday across America. With a record $2.4 billion being spent on the Black Weekend in the US, I definitely began to feel that this spending tradition was rubbing off on Birmingham. This became obvious when I (stupidly) went into the bullring on the Saturday to pick a few things up from Boots and had to queue for over half an hour for toothpaste and make-up remover… hopefully this is a tradition that doesn’t stick.

Many people in Britain think that Thanksgiving is simply a warm up for Christmas. However, in reality more Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day than Christmas Day. America is a country that is incredibly proud of its cultural diversity; many different religious and cultural events are celebrated in the ‘holiday’ season; such as the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the African-American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa, to name a few. Thanksgiving has become increasingly popular as a day to unite all Americans as it is based on values that are shared by all faiths such as charitable giving, family bonds and

– giving thanks!

…a day to unite all Americans

Thanksgiving celebrates the country as a whole and bonds the ‘melting pot’ that is the contemporary United States. On a personal level, the importance of Thanksgiving became particularly apparent when my Dad started working for a Jewish-American Law firm. The long Thanksgiving weekend is completely work free for him (phew), with absolutely zero contact stateside. However, come Christmas day, Jewish partners in New York will demand his full attention, much to the despair of my Welsh and impassioned Mother who has to cook the Christmas dinner all by herself!

After doing some research on Thanksgiving I have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely nothing like a holiday we have in the UK. There are so many wacky and hilarious traditions that I couldn’t get my head around. The most bizarre tradition being the annual ‘pardoning of the turkey’ by the President. This year, Barack Obama pardoned the two chosen turkeys on a live broadcast to the nation. The turkeys chosen were called ‘Mac’ and ‘Cheese’, a popular side dish, and the president compared the fierce competition between the other turkeys to ‘The Hunger Games’… need I say more?! I can’t wait to have my first ever Thanksgiving dinner in the final week of term at the North American Cultural Society event at the Bristol Pear. I will be a great warm up for all the second year ACS students who will spend Thanksgiving next year in the USA or Canada, where I am sure that the turkey will not be pardoned! Bring it on!

Article by Lydia Matthews (2nd Year ACS student)

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