Most fruit and vegetables grow through the summer  and are ready to bring in when autumn comes. This time is called the harvest. After the harvest, many people want to say thank you to God for all the food. There are church services called Harvest Festivals or Thanksgiving Services. There are lots of fruit, vegetables, flowers and loaves of bread in the church, and people sing special songs of thanks. These services started hundreds of years ago.

In September 1620, a group of English people called the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymout, England across the Atlantic Ocean, in a ship called The Mayflower, to Cape Cod in North America. they went away from England because of their religion, and because they wanted land for their families. They wanted to grow food for themselves - not for other people. The pilgrims sailed - for sixty-six dangerous days - across the Atlantic Ocean. When they arrived, they called their new home New England, but they were not the first people to live there. The Indians were there first. Sometimes the Pilgrims fought with the Indians but they also learned a lot from them. The Indians showed them how to live from their new land, for example, and how to grow and cook new kinds of fruit and vegetables.

The first winter was difficult. Many of the Pilgrims died because it was very cold and they had little food. In the spring they started to grow food, helped by some friedly Indians, and in the autumn of 1621 they celebrated their first harvest.

The pilgrims wanted to give thanks, not only for the harvest, but for their new home, new life and new friends.

The date of Thanksgiving Day in the USA has changed three times, but it is now the fourth Thursday in November. Most American and Canadian families still have a Thanksgiving Day dinner with their family. They have turkey and autumn vegetables, and then pumpkin pie.

In the USA, there are a lot of big football matches on that day, so many people go to the games or watch them on television.

Canada is north of the USA, so the winter is longer and the harvest is earlier there. The date of Thanksgiving Day has changed more than once, but is now the second Monday in October. In Canada there is a Thanksgiving Day holiday and the traditional dinner is turkey and pumpkin pie - like in the USA.

(Text from Seasons and Celebrations   -  OXFORD BOOKWORMS 2)

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