A special greeting from WAGGGS on Thanksgiving Day

28 November 2013

WAGGGS would like to wish our American sisters a happy Thanksgiving Day. We wish you peace and happiness during this holiday season and in the year to come.

Thanksgiving is a time of appreciation and generosity. It celebrates values related to cross-cultural tolerance, friendship and sharing. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts – wherever you are in the world – for always promoting these values through the Movement.  

With our very best wishes,

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

Learn more about Thanksgiving Day

In September 1620, a group of pilgrims left Plymouth in England to sail to ‘The New World’ aboard a ship called the Mayflower. The journey lasted over two months at sea.

The Mayflower finally arrived at what is now called Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The area was inhabited by Native American tribes, called the Wampanoag people, for over 12,000 years. The native people knew the land well and had fished, hunted, and harvested for generations. They helped the pilgrims grow corn and use fish to fertilize their fields. 

On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday honouring the early settlers and their harvest feast in 1621 known as the first Thanksgiving. The Native Americans and English pilgrims hunted dear for the feast and for three days all men, women and children ate together. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat.

Thanksgiving Day became an official Federal holiday in 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” It is one of the major holidays of the year.

Traditions of the celebration

Foods of the season

Certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving Day meals. Baked or roasted turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table. Stuffingmashed potatoes with gravysweet potatoescranberry saucesweet corn, various fall vegetables (mainly various kinds of squashes), and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. All of these are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived.

Community service

The poor are often provided with food at Thanksgiving time. Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners. 

Giving thanks

Members of the community give thanks for a common purpose during Thanks Giving Day.


Since 1924, in New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held annually every Thanksgiving Day. The parade features parade floats with specific themes, scenes from Broadway plays, large balloons of cartoon characters, TV personalities, and high school marching bands. The float that traditionally ends the Macy's Parade is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the Christmas season.

Also founded in 1924, America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit is one of the largest parades in the country. It includes large balloons, marching bands, and various celebrity guests much like the Macy's parade and is nationally televised on various affiliate stations. The Mayor of Detroit closes the parade by giving Santa Claus a key to the city.

There are Thanksgiving parades in many other cities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), St. Louis (Missouri), Plymouth (Massachusetts), Charlotte (North Carolina), El Paso and Houston (Texas), Chicago (Illinois), Fountain Hills (Arizona) and Stamford (Connecticut).


American football is an important part of many Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States of America. Professional football games are often held on Thanksgiving Day; until recently, these were the only games played during the week apart from Sunday or Monday night. The National Football League has played games on Thanksgiving every year since its creation.

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