Los Orígenes de Acción de Gracias

Aprende Inglés con ejercicios sobre los orígenes del Día de Acción de Gracias

El Día de Acción de Gracias o Thanksgiving es una festividad muy celebrada en los Estados Unidos, en la que familias y amigos se reúnen para expresar gratitud y disfrutar de un festín delicioso. Sin embargo, más allá de los pavos asados, los rellenos y las calabazas, Thanksgiving posee una interesante historia que se remonta a los primeros días de la colonización en América del Norte.

A continuación, te proponemos un plan de clase con ideas y actividades a través de las cuales explorar los orígenes de Thanksgiving y otras curiosidades en el aula de inglés con estudiantes adultos de nivel avanzado. ¡No te lo pierdas!

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The Origins of Thanksgiving: A History Lesson

Warm-up: Encourage students to call out or type words, phrases, or concepts associated with Thanksgiving. These can include food, historical figures, traditions, feelings, or anything related to the holiday.

Lead-in: Test your students’ knowledge on the origins of Thanksgiving 

1. Who is credited with organizing the first Thanksgiving in the New World?

   a) Christopher Columbus

   b) Squanto

   c) George Washington

   d) William Bradford

2. In what year was the first Thanksgiving celebration believed to have taken place?

   a) 1621

   b) 1492

   c) 1776

   d) 1607

3. Which Native American tribe assisted the Pilgrims and played a significant role in the first Thanksgiving feast?

   a) Wampanoag

   b) Cherokee

   c) Apache

   d) Iroquois

4. What was the primary reason for the first Thanksgiving celebration?

   a) The successful harvest

   b) To honor the Native American tribes

   c) The arrival of new settlers

   d) Celebrating a religious holiday

5. Which Plymouth Colony Governor declared the first Thanksgiving feast after a successful harvest?

   a) John Winthrop

   b) John Smith

   c) William Bradford

   d) Miles Standish

6. What food was NOT likely to have been present at the first Thanksgiving meal?

   a) Turkey

   b) Potatoes

   c) Cranberries

   d) Corn

7. Which US President made Thanksgiving an official national holiday in 1863?

   a) Thomas Jefferson

   b) Abraham Lincoln

   c) Theodore Roosevelt

   d) George Washington

8. What European country was home to the separatists who eventually became known as the Pilgrims?

   a) England

   b) Spain

   c) France

   d) Netherlands

Here are the answers to the quiz on the origins of Thanksgiving:

  1. d) William Bradford
  2. a) 1621
  3. a) Wampanoag
  4. a) The successful harvest
  5. c) William Bradford
  6. b) Potatoes
  7. b) Abraham Lincoln
  8. a) England

Reading skills

Read the following text about the origins of Thanksgiving.

The Origins of Thanksgiving: A History Lesson

Thanksgiving stands as a cherished holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a day when families and friends come together to express gratitude and relish in a delectable feast. Nevertheless, beyond the roasted turkeys, stuffing, and pumpkins, Thanksgiving possesses a rich history dating back to the early days of colonization in North America. In this article, we shall delve into the origins of Thanksgiving and how it has evolved over the years, encompassing intriguing historical details and anecdotes that render this holiday all the more special.

The Early Days of Thanksgiving

The inaugural Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was a three-day affair attended by approximately 50 English settlers, often referred to as «Pilgrims,» and about 90 Wampanoag Native Americans. While it was not explicitly termed «Thanksgiving» at that time, it marked the genesis of the holiday we recognize today.

The intent behind this celebration was to give thanks for the inaugural successful harvest following a harsh winter in the New World. The Wampanoag played an indispensable role in educating the settlers on cultivating corn, fishing, and hunting, enabling their survival and prosperity. This spirit of gratitude and cooperation became the cornerstone of what would eventually become Thanksgiving.

Abraham Lincoln and the National Day of Thanksgiving

The observance of Thanksgiving experienced fluctuations in dates over the years. Nonetheless, it was President Abraham Lincoln who officially established the National Day of Thanksgiving. In 1863, amid the American Civil War, Lincoln proclaimed a day of «Thanksgiving and Praise to our benevolent God» with the aim of uniting the nation and nurturing a sense of unity during times of division.

This proclamation enshrined Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November. The date remained consistent over the years, with the exception of a brief period during the Great Depression when President Franklin D. Roosevelt adjusted the date to extend the holiday shopping season. However, this decision proved to be unpopular, and the fourth Thursday of November was reinstated as the official date.

Traditions and Culinary Delights

Throughout the years, Thanksgiving has evolved into a holiday steeped in tradition. Foremost among these is the Thanksgiving dinner, typically featuring a roasted turkey as the centerpiece. The turkey is complemented by an array of side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, creating a delectable and heartwarming meal for all.

Another longstanding tradition is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This iconic parade showcases colossal inflatable balloons, adorned floats, and live performances. Millions of individuals congregate along the parade route or tune in to the live televised broadcast, making it a nationally anticipated event.

The custom of breaking the turkey’s «Wishbone» (a lucky bone) is yet another captivating Thanksgiving tradition. Two individuals tug at opposite ends of the bone, with the belief that the one who secures the longer segment will have their wish granted, adding a touch of whimsy to the holiday.

Myths and Realities

While Thanksgiving finds its roots in the notion of collaboration between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, the historical narrative is far more intricate. Over the years, European colonization had a profound and devastating impact on Native American populations, a facet often overlooked in the Thanksgiving storyline. The holiday’s history serves as a poignant reminder of the intricate tapestry that constitutes the history of the United States, underscoring the importance of acknowledging both the positive milestones and challenges in the nation’s evolution.

Thanksgiving Today

In contemporary times, Thanksgiving continues to hold significance in the United States. Families convene to express gratitude for their blessings and partake in a sumptuous meal. It’s a time for family members to gather, often traveling long distances, to reconnect and celebrate their relationships.

Additionally, many people utilize the free time during the Thanksgiving weekend to engage in «Black Friday» shopping, availing themselves of special deals in retail stores, marking the commencement of the holiday shopping season.

Nonetheless, there has been a growing emphasis on gratitude and benevolence. Many communities organize volunteer events to aid those in need during this season. The holiday presents an opportunity to reflect upon the things for which we are thankful and to extend kindness to others, promoting a sense of unity and giving back to the community.

Thanksgiving stands as a holiday replete with historical significance and profound meaning. Its origins in the 17th century have metamorphosed into an annual celebration of gratitude and unity in the United States. As we express our thanks for our blessings and relish the company of family and friends, it remains paramount to remember the historical backdrop and the diversity of experiences that have contributed to the shaping of this holiday. Thanksgiving serves as an occasion to celebrate our shared values and glean insights from our past to forge a brighter future, reinforcing the bonds that unite us as a nation.

Thanksgiving Around the World

While Thanksgiving is quintessentially American, expressions of gratitude and the concept of a harvest festival are not unique to the United States. Many cultures worldwide have their own variations of a harvest or thanksgiving celebration, each infused with its unique traditions and historical context.

In Canada, for instance, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October. It shares the core elements of the American holiday, including a bountiful feast and the expression of gratitude. The Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to English and French explorers who held ceremonies of thanks for successful voyages in the 16th century.

In Japan, the Labor Thanksgiving Day, known as «Kinrō Kansha no Hi,» is observed on November 23rd. While not directly related to a harvest festival, it is a day to celebrate hard work and productive labor. People express gratitude for the fruits of their labor, and it also has historical significance related to Japanese culture and traditions.

In India, the festival of Pongal is a four-day harvest festival celebrated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It typically falls in mid-January and is a time for giving thanks to the sun god and nature for a bountiful harvest. The festival includes the preparation of a special dish called «Pongal,» made from newly harvested rice.

In Ghana, the Homowo festival is a harvest festival celebrated by the Ga people. It involves various rituals and ceremonies to give thanks for a good harvest. One of the central features of the festival is the sprinkling of «Kpokpoi,» a traditional dish made from maize and palm nut soup, to signify a time of abundance.

These are just a few examples of how gratitude and the celebration of a successful harvest are embedded in cultures across the globe. They serve as a reminder that the spirit of Thanksgiving, the act of coming together to express thanks, is a universal and timeless concept that transcends borders and cultural differences. Whether in the United States or elsewhere, the essence of giving thanks and celebrating the abundance of life remains a cherished and unifying tradition.

Post-reading Discussion questions

You will participate in a discussion related to the text about Thanksgiving. You will have to express your opinions, provide explanations, and engage in a meaningful conversation with your partner. Remember to use advanced vocabulary and grammatical structures.

1. What cultural and historical aspects of Thanksgiving do you find most interesting or significant? Explain why.

2. In the text, it is mentioned that Thanksgiving has evolved over the years. How do you think it might continue to change in the future?

3. The text touches on the complexity of the historical narrative surrounding Thanksgiving. Do you think it’s important to acknowledge the full historical context when celebrating the holiday? Why or why not?

4. Do you think Thanksgiving should be celebrated as a national holiday in other countries? Why or why not?

5. Thanksgiving is often associated with expressing gratitude. In your opinion, is it important for people to have a specific day to do this, or should gratitude be expressed throughout the year?

6. In the text about Thanksgiving, we learned how traditions play a significant role in shaping the holiday. How do you think cultural traditions, like Thanksgiving, contribute to a sense of identity for a community or a nation?

7. The history of Thanksgiving includes aspects that are both celebratory and challenging, as mentioned in the text. Do you believe it’s essential for a society to acknowledge both the positive and negative aspects of its history? Why or why not?

8. In some cases, history has been used to inspire change or foster unity. Can you provide an example of how knowledge of history has played a role in a positive way in a society or community?

Here are some further activities you can do with advanced students in the class using the text about Thanksgiving:

1. Historical Character Role-Play

Assign each student a historical character mentioned in the text (e.g., a Pilgrim, a Wampanoag, Abraham Lincoln) and have them prepare a short monologue or dialogue where they express their thoughts on Thanksgiving and its historical significance.

2. Thanksgiving Timeline Art Project

In groups or individually, have students create a visual timeline illustrating the key events and changes in the history of Thanksgiving. They can use drawings, illustrations, or collages to represent each event along the timeline.

3. Historical Letter Writing

Ask students to choose a historical figure mentioned in the text and write a letter in the first person from the perspective of that character. For example, they could write a letter as a Pilgrim describing their first Thanksgiving experience.

4. Thanksgiving Storytelling

Ask students to craft a short fictional story set during the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621. They can use the historical context from the text to create a compelling narrative with characters, dialogue, and plot.

5. Thanksgiving History Podcast

Have students work in groups to create a short podcast episode about the history of Thanksgiving. They can write scripts, record, and edit the podcast, including segments where they discuss the historical events and traditions mentioned in the text.

6. Create a Thanksgiving Recipe Book

In groups, students can compile a Thanksgiving recipe book with traditional dishes from different cultures around the world. Each student can contribute a recipe along with a brief description of its cultural significance.

These creative activities not only engage advanced students but also encourage them to apply their English language skills in innovative and meaningful ways while deepening their understanding of the text and the holiday.

Manuela Mena es Licenciada en Traducción e Interpretación, Máster en Neuropsicología, Experta en Docencia Online & Qualified CELTA Teacher. Actualmente trabaja como directora académica de la escuela de idiomas The Language House y CEO de la consultora educativa feelthelanguage.com. Asimismo, imparte clases en la Universidad Antonio de Nebrija y el SDI de Múnich, además de examinar para los diferentes niveles de Cambridge ESOL.