Thursday, November 22, 2012


A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. I made this last Thanksgiving.
Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. It's possibly my favorite holiday (read more about holidays in general here), but most people here in Costa Rica don't know anything about it. So today let's explore what the holiday is about! Many of these words --especially about foods-- may be new or strange for you, so I'll include definitions or explanations for the bold words at the end of the post.

First of all, Thanksgiving is an old holiday. The history of Thanksgiving is a bit complicated, though, and there are different ideas about the "first Thanksgiving." You can watch this video or any of the others on if you want more general information about the holiday's history. For today I just want to focus on the modern celebration.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday of every November. Most people generally have Thursday and Friday off from work or school, so generally people try to get together with friends and family for a big meal (sometimes called "Thanksgiving dinner" or a "feast"). Different people eat different foods for Thanksgiving, but the most common food is definitely turkey. As sides, people often eat cranberry sauce together with the meat --it may sound weird, but it's delicious! Additionally, people often eat mashed potatoes with gravy, bread or rolls, stuffing, and save the most delicious thing for dessert: pumpkin pie

It's a special time of year, and I think one of the best things about the holiday is that it's not commercial, and that it's just about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for the good things in your life. Many times people take turns saying what they're thankful for in their lives.

At the old school where I used to teach, the students wrote what they were thankful for on a paper leaf. What are you thankful for in your life?

Let's go over some of the vocabulary for today. Before you read the definitions, though, can you explain what each of the words means?

have ____ off
get together (with)
cranberry (sauce)
pumpkin pie
spend time
loved ones
be thankful for
take turns

Now, let's look at some definitions or explanations for each of the vocabulary words:

Thanksgiving - a holiday at the end of November in the US
holiday - a special day; normally people don't have to work on holidays (see here)
have ____ off - if you have a day off, it means you don't have to work or go to school
get together (with) - to meet with someone
meal - a time when people eat food; the three meals are normally breakfast, lunch, and dinner
dinner - the name for the main meal at Thanksgiving (sometimes it's at lunch time, though)
feast - a very large, special, or elaborate meal
cranberry (sauce) - a cranberry is a tart fruit (see here)
mashed - "mash" is very similar to "smash" or "crush"
gravy - a thick sauce made from meat juices; often served with meat and/or potatoes
rolls - small, individual pieces of bread
stuffing - a mixture of bread cubes, celery, and other ingredients; often cooked inside the turkey
pumpkin pie - a dessert made from pumpkin, a type of gourd
spend time - we normally use the verb "spend" for time (not "pass")
loved ones - people who are important or special to us
be thankful for - to appreciate someone or something
take turns - when different people do something in order, one person at a time

So, what about you? What are you thankful for? I'm thankful for you, for reading this blog! If you have any comments or questions, please leave a comment. Thanks again for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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