Thanksgiving 2023: A Celebration of Food, Family, and Friends - The India Saga



Thanksgiving 2023: A Celebration of Food, Family, and Friends

Well, well, well, one of the most cherished cultural holidays, Thanksgiving is on its way. Rooted in rich historical events,…

Thanksgiving 2023: A Celebration of Food, Family, and Friends

Well, well, well, one of the most cherished cultural holidays, Thanksgiving is on its way. Rooted in rich historical events, the festival is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada. It revolves around expressing gratitude, remembering past blessings, and spending time with loved ones. A plethora of symbols are closely associated with Thanksgiving, each encapsulating the essence of the holiday. The turkey, for instance, stands as the centrepiece for most Thanksgiving meals and represents abundance. Pumpkins, often transformed into pies, symbolize the harvest. Cornucopias or ‘horns of plenty,’ overflowing with produce, are representations of prosperity and abundance. Moreover, autumn leaves, with their vibrant colours, capture the essence of the fall season in which Thanksgiving is celebrated, nature truly has its way.


If we flip the books of history, the origins of Thanksgiving trace back to the early 17th century. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is now widely recognized as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. These colonists, commonly referred to as the Pilgrims, had faced a brutal winter and many hardships upon arriving in the New World. With the help of the local Indigenous people, they learned the vital skills of hunting, fishing, and crop cultivation, which eventually led to a bountiful harvest. This three-day feast was a celebration of their successful harvest and an expression of gratitude.


Over the years the whole concept has evolved, Thanksgiving is a time to pause, reflect, and express gratitude for the many blessings in our lives, all while surrounded by the warmth of loved ones. People spend time with family, eat lavish feasts and reflect on the happenings in their lives. To add to that, the day is also filled with various activities that reflect its heartwarming ethos. Families often start the day by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a spectacle featuring massive balloons, performers, and bands. Football games, both neighbourhood matches and professional league games, are also a staple for many as they provide good entertainment with time to bind as well. Amidst these activities, the most poignant moments often happen around the dinner table. Here, families and friends gather, share a meal, express their gratitude, and reminisce about the past. After the meal, it is a common practice for families to indulge in board games, watch movies, or simply enjoy each other’s company.


Thanksgiving Recipes 


No matter what the festival is, good food is always very much essential. Similarly, food at Thanksgiving also holds importance, it symbolizes gratitude, tradition, and unity. These dishes pass down through generations, strengthen familial bonds and celebrate the harvest’s abundance. Shared across the table, they remind people of their shared history, the significance of giving thanks, and the power of coming together in appreciation. Hence, let us have a look at some of the Thanksgiving recipes that would only make the day perfect: 


Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes 


Traditional Thanksgiving recipes hold a cherished place in cultural history. The centrepiece is undoubtedly the roasted turkey, seasoned with herbs and often brined for juiciness. Accompanying the bird is stuffing, a delightful mixture of bread cubes, celery, onions, and savoury spices. Many families swear by their green bean casserole, a combination of green beans, creamy mushroom soup, and crispy fried onions. Cranberry sauce, with its tart and sweet balance, is a requisite side, either homemade with whole cranberries or sliced from a can, whatever suits best to the person. 


Creamy mashed potatoes, rich with butter and cream, provide a comforting base for gravy made from turkey drippings and thus are very important when going for a traditional dinner setup. Sweet potato casserole, often topped with a crust of brown sugar and marshmallows, brings a sweet touch and gives a blend of flavours. For dessert, pumpkin pie is a must on that dinner table. With its creamy spiced filling and flaky crust, it makes the whole meal just perfect.


Modern Thanksgiving Recipes


Traditional recipes capture the essence of the past, whereas, on the other hand, modern Thanksgiving recipes reflect a blend of tradition and innovation, catering to diverse palates and dietary needs. While the classic roast turkey still remains a centrepiece, many families now experiment with alternative seasonings like sriracha or chimichurri. Plant-based mains, such as lentil loaf or stuffed acorn squash, are gaining traction. 


Gluten-free cornbread, dairy-free mashed potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate and pecans are examples of dishes that ensure everyone at the table feels included as people try to make the dinner table more inclusive. For dessert, twists on the customary pumpkin pie include pumpkin cheesecake or spiced pumpkin crème brûlée, meaning pumpkin is still there, it just has been modernised. Beverages, too, get a contemporary spin with apple cider mimosas or cranberry spiced punch. These recipes showcase the evolving nature of Thanksgiving, blending the cherished past with new flavours, ensuring that the feast remains familiar yet exciting.


Vegetarian and Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes


People are evolving and so are their choices, thus many of them are adopting vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. However, it is everyone’s duty to ensure that those who choose plant-based diets do not need to feel left out during this festive season. Vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes can be just as hearty and flavorful. Instead of turkey, a stuffed acorn or butternut squash can serve as a beautiful centrepiece. Filled with grains like quinoa or wild rice, cranberries, nuts, and seasonal veggies, it becomes a delectable main course.


For vegans, mashed potatoes can be made creamy with coconut milk and olive oil, while traditional stuffing can be veganized using vegetable broth and plant-based butter. Green bean almondine, roasted Brussels sprouts, and cranberry-orange relish act as delightful vegan side dishes, adding to the festivity. Pies need not be missed either: vegan pumpkin and pecan pies, made with silken tofu or coconut milk, offer a luscious end to the meal. 


How to decorate your house for Thanksgiving?


Every festival requires beautiful decorations to bring that festive feeling. Same way the decorating for Thanksgiving embodies the warmth and gratitude of the season. Begin by selecting a colour palette that reflects autumnal hues such as oranges, deep reds, browns, and golds because we gotta vibe with the seasons. Use natural elements like pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, and dried corn to create Thanksgiving centrepieces and adornments. 


Wreaths made from dried leaves or branches can provide a welcoming touch to your front door. Incorporate soft, ambient lighting with candles in rustic holders or fairy lights draped around the room. For the dining table, use a festive tablecloth or runner, and consider placing a small Thanksgiving-themed ornament or handwritten gratitude note at each place setting. Cloth napkins, tied with twine and a sprig of herbs, can add an elegant touch. Incorporate harvest motifs such as turkeys, pilgrims, and cornucopias sparingly to avoid over-cluttering. Finally, remember that the heart of Thanksgiving is gratitude, so choose decorations that resonate with personal meaning and evoke a sense of thankfulness.


Perfect crafting ideas for Thanksgiving 


Thanksgiving crafts are very necessary because they add a personal touch to the holiday season. Placemats, for instance, can be a creative project, allowing family members to decorate their own mats with autumn-themed designs, like leaves, pumpkins, and turkeys. These placemats not only protect the table but also serve as cherished keepsakes for years to come, I mean memories are very integral, right? Ornaments also offer a wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Crafting ornaments with elements like mini cornucopias, acorns, and pilgrim hats can stimulate the spirit of gratitude and harvest. These handmade ornaments can be hung around the house or on a Thanksgiving tree to enhance the festive ambience. Overall, Thanksgiving crafts like placemats and ornaments bring families together to express their creativity and appreciation for the season’s blessings, while also contributing to the joyful atmosphere of the holiday, hence, there is no way any family should miss this.


Thanksgiving, a festival of gratitude and togetherness, has deep roots in history and has evolved through time to encapsulate diverse traditions and values. While its historical origins are intertwined with stories of survival and unity, today it has become a reflection of cultural amalgamation and personal interpretations. Traditional and modern recipes bring people together over sumptuous feasts. The decorations, resonating with autumnal hues, provide warmth and evoke a sense of belonging. Moreover, crafting allows families to infuse their personal touch, making memories that last a lifetime. At its core, Thanksgiving is more than just a day; it’s an embodiment of gratitude, family, and unity. It reminds us to pause, reflect, and appreciate life’s many blessings, cherishing moments with loved ones and embracing traditions that bridge past, present, and future. So ensure to pause whatever you are doing and enjoy Thanksgiving 2023.