Nov 24, 2010

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7 Reasons the UK Should Celebrate Thanksgiving Day

Simon JamesThanksgiving Day in America is a couple of days away now (it was a couple of weeks ago in Canada). It’s one of those holidays that the British know little about and often resent the idea of. Most of what we know has been gleaned from various American TV shows and talking with Americans on holiday. Recently I read Bill Bryson’s “I’m A Stranger Here Myself” where he talks about thanksgiving and raises an interesting point, why hasn’t the rest of the world adopted it?

We'd still get to eat Turkey if the UK adopted Thanksgiving!

We'd still get to eat Turkey if the UK adopted Thanksgiving!

As the days went by, this thought kept circulating in my head and I agree with him wholeheartedly. So here I put forward my seven reasons recommending why the UK should start to celebrate Thanksgiving Day:

1 – Thanksgiving Day in America isn’t really linked with the events they supposedly celebrate. The original intention of Thanksgiving was the Pilgrim Forefathers, who landed on December 4th 1619, as thanks to God. Modern Thanksgiving actually has its roots more closely tied with events in 1621 when the Pilgrim Fathers celebrated their first successful harvest. It was Abraham Lincoln who declared Thanksgiving would be on the last Thursday of November, yet no one knows why.  So the link between Thanksgiving and Americana is hardly unbreakable – I’m certainly not suggesting we celebrate July 4th. But the uncertainty of the original reasons for Thanksgiving day should not put us off celebrating the occasion!

The very first Thanksgiving probably looked like this - but unconfirmed!

The very first Thanksgiving probably looked like this - but unconfirmed!

2 – Shops would not start promoting Christmas until the end of November – no longer would we see Christmas Crackers on our supermarket shelves in August as we’re walking round in flips flops and bermuda shorts as the sun stilll shines outside!

3 – We’ve been crying out for an extra bank holiday for years now –even with the Royal Wedding in 2011, we desperately need something in between the August Bank Holiday and Christmas Eve, plus it’d be a Thursday off which would be unique.

4 – It’s an honest, straight forward holiday – no greetings cards, no presents, no hype, just a day off to spend with those nearest and dearest. (though I’m sure Thanksgiving merchandising would begin instantly!)

5 – Choosing which parents to visit – because it’s close to Xmas it would make the whole “whose parents are we spending Xmas with this year” conversation much, much easier. As you they are so close together it’d be convenient to go to one set of parents for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas.

6 – We’ve picked the wrong USA tradition – Halloween is becoming bigger and bigger in this country, but in my opinion we’ve picked the wrong American tradition to adopt. Teaching our children that it’s okay to knock on strangers doors and ask for “Candy” is just not right. Furthermore, we also tell them it’s perfectly acceptable to play “tricks” on those who choose not to participate in this made up holiday. These are hardly the lessons we should really be teaching are they?

7 –  Because Thanksgiving isn’t based in any religion – it’d be an opportunity to all get together and do the one thing we don’t do enough of – give thanks for everything we love and are grateful for. Be they friends, family, neighbours or pets. And what is worth celebrating more than that?

This post was written by Moneysupermarket shopping expert Simon James, you can read his more retail based articles on this blog.

  1. Julia says:

    Could not agree more Simon. What a wonderful idea, you should start a petition and deliver it to 10 Downing Street.

    • Yes I totally agree there is need of a holiday between August and December and Thanksgiving would fit in very well in November giving a nice run up to Christmas.

  2. prustage says:

    No no no. Dont agree with any of this.

    1. We do need more holidays but no more religious ones thank you. As an atheist I am already sick of all the “thanks to God” events that we have to put up with. Lets celebrate human achievements and virtues – not supernatural ones.

    2. Maybe we would delay the onset of Xmas commercialism but that would just be by introducing commercialism of a different flavour even earlier.

    3, Yes we need an extra holiday – but not Thanksgiving.

    4. Thanksgiving would go just the same way as Xmas and become equally commercialised very quickly.

    5. The parents problem is easily solved already – Xmas with one, new year with the others.

    6. You are totally misinformed on this one. Hallowe’en is a an ancient English tradition that goes back even further than the idea of celebrating Xmas. We didnt “import” it from the US. The only thing we have imported is the term “trick or treat” which up until the 1950’s was known as “souling” (England) or “guising” (Scotland) over here.

    7. This point is totally contradicted by point 1.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Halloween was irish/scots not american!but i agree we should celebrate thanksgiving after all wasnt it english/scots who went to america that started it??

  4. Halloween was irish/scots not american!but i agree we should celebrate thanksgiving after all wasnt it english/scots who went to america that started it??

  5. Yes. The reason eight is that actions speak louder than words. I will celebrate thanks giving day with my family after work. wow!

    • David Holcroft says:

      Not entirely sure what you mean with regard to reason ‘8’ here Gregory but yes, spending time with family is crucial in this day and age. Busy lives, fast paced societies and huge to do lists often means we neglect what’s important!

  6. Im all for thanks giving to bring families together for a special day.

  7. Dear god no. America already has too much influence around the world. Would they take on one of our traditions? Can you envisage America celebrating Bonfire Night? Not a chance. Whatever next, UK celebrating Independence Day too? Common sense please, America is welcome to Thanksgiving Day but please keep it over there.

  8. silk comforter says:

    Dear, that’s a good history introduction of the giving day, thanks, I learn a lot from your post.

  9. Ann Gibson says:

    Sorry guys. Please stop trying to celebrate all that is North American. It just does not work. Thanksgiving was shared with our First Nations. This is not in your history. Leave it to us.

  10. Jamie Fall says:

    First off all Thanksgiving like Halloween originated in the United Kingdom, so why shouldn’t we celebrate them.

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