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From Thanksgiving to Black Friday

Que tal aprender um pouco sobre um dos mais tradicionais feriados americanos: the Thanksgiving day? No texto que segue abaixo, você aprende não somente sobre esse feriado, mas também sobre o dia após: the Black Friday. Portanto, vamos ao texto!


Thanksgiving, also known as “Turkey Day,” is the 4th Thursday of every November. Canada also celebrates it, but they do it on the 2nd Monday of October.

In the US, it’s a day when people come together with their loved ones to enjoy a much anticipated day of family, football and parade watching, as well as the biggest, most delicious dinner of the year (with the famous turkey as the main dish).

Cultura Americana: Thanksgiving DayAs an American living in Brazil, it’s days like these that I think most about my family back home in the States, and come to understand the true meaning of the Brazilian expression “saudade,” although what I miss is uniquely North America.

The more Thanksgivings I spend outside of the US, the more I realize that people in other parts of the world don’t have a very deep sense of what “Turkey Day” means to us. I see this as a unique opportunity to share a special part of my culture with Brazilians.

THANKSGIVING: meaning and origin

The modern day cultural significance of Thanksgiving varies from region to region, and from family to family, but the essence is the same everywhere:

To give thanks to the things that life has given you, and SHARE!

It’s a yearly ritual to share with and appreciate loved ones, family, friends, and basically be nice to anybody in your life. Whereas Christmas often gets lost in consumerism and the idea of buying, giving and receiving presents, Thanksgiving is meant to be a day when the human connection is celebrated.

The historical significance of Thanksgiving dates back to 1623, when European colonists sat down for a harvest dinner with the native Wampanoag people at Plymouth Rock (Massachusetts).

The natives saved the lives of the colonists, helping them build shelters and keep warm in the cold winters, as well as providing them food, and teaching them how to farm.

To honor this relationship, it became a yearly ritual for several colonies and states, and then in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday. It has long since been a very important cultural holiday in the United States.


So why is a “family holiday” like Thanksgiving so important to a hyper-individualistic culture such as the United States? What does this say about Americans?

Maybe it’s the very fact that we live busy, career oriented lives that creates an urgent need for a family holiday such as Thanksgiving. We often live far apart from our relatives, and Turkey Day is a golden opportunity for family to make up for lost time and reconnect with loved ones we haven’t seen in a long time.

Brazil is the total opposite of the U.S. in this sense. It’s a country where family, friends and human connection are prioritized in everyday life throughout the year. One example of this is that Brazilians often live with their parents until they get married, or at least in the same city.

Family is important in the U.S., but with a culture that emphasizes both independence and hard work, we often don’t permit ourselves the time to enjoy our extended families as much as we should. In a recent international poll, the U.S. was listed amongst the countries with the least paid vacation in the world, with just 13 days per year. Brazil averaged 34 days per year of paid vacation.

Basically, when we don’t see our family more than a few times a year, we tend to save all the “saudades” for the joy and celebration of Thanksgiving!


» Leia mais: O que significa BLACK FRIDAY

Cultura Americana Black FridayAlthough the cultural significance of Thanksgiving is all about family connection, gratefulness, and sharing, all of which are positive aspects of American culture, the economic importance of Black Friday is a story of impassioned consumerism.

Black Friday marks the beginning of holiday shopping craziness, which culminates the day before Christmas, and lasts until New Years. Earlier today, with huge promotions/sales, stores and malls all across the U.S. opened at 4:00 a.m. to huge crowds lined up at the doors.

The economic importance of Black Friday may very well be to catapult the whole nation into holiday shopping fever and jumpstart the economy. Here are just a few Christmas season shopping Statistics:

  • US$ 1,700: The amount the average American household spends on Christmas and holiday spending.
  • US$ 72,000,000,000: The amount U.S. consumers spent on holiday shopping from November 1st through Dec 16th last year.
  • 46,000,000: The projected number of new iphones to be sold this year.
  • The average American spends ¼ of his/her yearly spending in the holiday season.

As you can see, Thanksgiving is a very special day in the US, in many ways. If you have friends or family to welcome you into their homes, it’s the perfect time to be visit and get to know one of our best holidays. You can even spend Black Friday shopping for amazing prices and call it a cultural learning experience!

Justin Murray was born and raised near Seattle, Washington (USA). He is the founder of Real Life English, an EFL blog and international community based out of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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