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Thanksgiving. It’s just around the corner and today we’re going to go over a brief history of thanksgiving in the United States, and we’re going to study some vocabulary related to this holiday, and also learn about some of the traditional thanksgiving foods. And you’ll even see some clips from a past family thanksgiving. And don’t forget, if you like this video or you learn something new please give it a thumbs up and subscribe with notifications it really helps.
Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November every year, so the date changes from year to year. Typically, schools and some businesses close on Thursday and Friday for a four-day weekend, which is just glorious. Thanksgiving is basically a meal. History tells us that in 1621 the Plymouth colonists and a group of native Americans, the Wampanoag, shared an autumn harvest feast that is believed to be one of the first thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. Days of thanksgiving were celebrated throughout the colonies and later, the states. In 1863, president Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday.
Okay, let’s go over a few words and pronunciations there. Lincoln. Notice the second L in his name is silent. The first N is not the N sound, nn– but it’s the ng sound ngg– made with the back of the tongue. Ling– can– lincoln.
Then you release that into the k for a quick k schwa N ending. Lincoln. President lincoln. President lincoln officially made thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.
We had a few other words there you might not know. Colonists and colonies. A colony is someone who settles in or colonizes a country where they weren’t born. So people came over from england, they weren’t planning on going back. To colonize America, to set up a new life and community there. Colonists set up and lived in colonies.
I also used the phrase autumn harvest feast. Autumn is just another word for fall, it’s one of the four seasons. The T is a Flap T and the N is silent. Autumn.
Harvest is when you gather a crop that you’ve been growing, the food is ready to be picked, and you harvest it. So that’s a verb, harvest, the act of gathering or picking your crop. And then it’s also a noun, the food that was harvested. The harvest this year is bigger than last year.
Finally, the word feast. This is a big meal. This can also be a verb or a noun. Feast is the act of eating a big meal, and as a noun, it’s the meal itself. And thanksgiving is a feast. People stuffing themselves and eating too much.
One of the images you’ll often see associated with thanksgiving is a pilgrim, or a pilgrim hat. A pilgrim refers to one of the group of people who originally colonized America. But the word also has a broader meaning, someone who journeys, often to a sacred place for religious reasons. This kind of a journey is called a pilgrimage. But in this context, pilgrims refers to the early colonizers who came from England, settled in, can you guess the area? New England. And the men wore hats like this with a buckle on it and it’s become a symbol of thanksgiving in America.
And of course, turkey, which is the main dish at a typical thanksgiving meal. Another symbol of thanksgiving is a horn-shaped basket called a cornucopia. Overflowing with autumnal foods. Oh, did you notice I used the word autumnal, as an adjective. Autumn, the noun, means fall. And autumnal means relating to or suggesting autumn. Notice the stress is on the second syllable and the T is now a true t. Autumn, it was a Flap T. Now, autumnal, with a true t. Also, we now say the n. In autumn, the N is silent. But in autumnal, we say both the M and the n. Isn’t it funny? Autumn. Autumnal.
Now let’s get down to foods. Turkey is the main dish. There are all sorts of ways it can be prepared. Deep fried, grilled whole, smoked, or roasted in the oven. That’s probably the most common. Several years ago I livestreamed some of my thanksgiving dinner, and the quality isn’t great, but I do have some footage of the food and the general chaotic feel of gathering so many family members at one table.
The turkey platter looks so nice with those greens. The home-grown sage, it looks amazing.
The turkey platter looks so nice with those greens. A platter is a big dish for serving, and we’ve got another Flap T there. Platter. Platter. Now at this point, the turkey has been carved. That’s the verb we use for cutting up the turkey, taking it from a whole turkey into smaller pieces that you can eat. It’s been carved.
The next dish you’re going to have at almost any thanksgiving meal is going to be mashed potatoes.
We have mashed potatoes. Were these made from scratch, from real potatoes?
I think so.
I love mashed potatoes. I just did a video on ED endings and this is one of the cases where we would usually drop the ED ending in pronunciation. Here, it’s a T and we usually don’t say T between two other consonants. So it’s not mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes. But we say: mashed potatoes, dropping the T sound altogether. If you want to know why and you want to know more about the ED endings, click here or see the link in the video description. Mashed potatoes. I asked if they were from scratch. This means made from the beginning, the most basic ingredients, in this case, whole potatoes. That’s different than making mashed potatoes from a box of dried mashed potato flakes. Sweet potatoes or a casserole made from sweet potatoes is another very common dish.
This was a sweet potato casserole.
And it’s good.
And it’s good. Oh, it’s good!
Casserole is one of these words that can be pronounced as two syllables. Cass– roll– or three syllables: cass– er– ol– casserole or casserole.
Casserole can refer to the dish the food is prepared in. Something like this, deeper sides, often with a cover. Or it can refer to the food inside, a food which is mixed together and baked like a chicken casserole that has vegetables and a creamy dressing. We had a lot of tater tot casserole in my house growing up.
Now there are lots of other foods that most people will have at their tables. Let’s take a look at everything we had this particular year.
David, what are you working on over here?
Dried corn. What does dried corn mean?
Uh, you have to ask mom.
It’s dehydrated and you reconstitute it with cream.
Okay, interesting. Okay. And then we have the gravy here.
The dehydrated corn dish is something totally new to me. It’s a tradition in my husband’s family and I had never had it before. Never even heard of it before. This is something I love about thanksgiving. Each family has its own traditions about what dishes to include and how exactly to prepare them. The last thing we saw in that green pot was gravy. This is a sauce made from juices, from cooking the turkey, but also gravy has an idiomatic meaning. It means money, easily gotten, or something extra, an extra benefit. For example, I could say, for my business, I make most of my money from running my academy, and putting in that work. The money I get from YouTube ads, that’s gravy. It feels extra. I don’t count on it in my budget because it can go up or down so much. So anything I get from it is gravy.
So here’s the thanksgiving table. You can tell this was shot a long time ago because I don’t have very much gray hair. I was about eight months pregnant with my first son, and you can tell I’m pretty tired. Anyway, the table, the thanksgiving table. My sister-in-law always hosts thanksgiving. This means it’s at her house, and she does a lot of the planning and coordinating for it. And she really makes such a beautiful table each year with an interesting centerpiece. That’s what’s on the middle of the table for decoration. And it’s pretty common to drop the T in that word center, and just say center, centerpiece. Here, listen to how my sister-in-law invites us to the table.
Let’s take our seats.
She said ‘let’s take our seats’. Take a seat is a more polite way to say sit down. Please, take a seat. Before the meal, it’s common for everyone to say what they’re thankful for, or to say a prayer, depending on the religious beliefs of the grou p, or for someone to say a blessing or to sing a song or have a toast. We we’re gathered here to be thankful together, and I’ve asked Becca to say a blessing, but first, I would like to cheers Audrey.
My husband’s family loves to sing, and we sing a hymn. A hymn is a song usually praising or in honor of god or maybe a nation. In this word, just like autumn, the N is silent. We sang a hymn, and here it is.
And then it’s time to dig in. I’m going to show you what food went around and what ended up on my plate.
So here we have turkey and sweet potatoes, also called yams.
Okay, so that’s not actually true. Sweet potatoes and yams are different things. Though they’re similar.
And the mashed potatoes are coming around. There’s red wine, there’s white wine.
What is it?
Uh, this is stuffing.
Do you know if it has meat in it?
No meat. I would love a scoop. Could you, could you scoop me some stuffing? How much would you like?
Not too much because there’s not that much room in the body for food.
That’s good, thank you.
Stuffing is another classic must-have thanksgiving dish. Usually it’s made up of cubed bread and herbs. The name ‘stuffing’ comes from the idea that you stuff it into the turkey to cook. That way, the bread absorbs a lot of the tasty juices from the meat. But it can also be baked in an oven in a dish, and another term you’ll hear for this is dressing.
Jeff, what’s that?
Some sort of bean, fried onion, casserole…
Green bean casserole?
Lisa made it, it’s really good.
Green bean casserole. It’s mixed with cream of mushroom soup, in this case, my sister-in-law made the soup from scratch. She didn’t use soup from a can, and she fried onions to go on top. It was so good. Now, just before eating, I went over everything that was on my plate.
My phone keeps turning off because it’s overheating. So I’m just going to finish by showing you my plate. Here’s what we have. We have dinner roll, mashed potatoes and gravy, olives, two kinds of sweet potato dishes, a corn dish, turkey, stuff, green bean casserole, stuffing is hiding under there, and two kinds of cranberry.
I haven’t mentioned cranberry yet. A cranberry relish is a jelly of some kind, it’s also very traditional at thanksgiving and it’s one of my favorite parts of the meal. Looking at this makes me feel kind of sad because I know we’re not going to have anything like that this year with the coronavirus. We’re not getting together like this.
A traditional dessert at thanksgiving is a pumpkin pie. I love to buy a small sugar pumpkin, roast it and make a pie from that, that’s definitely making the pie from scratch, if you don’t use canned pumpkin. I actually made a video a while ago while I made a pumpkin pie and you can see that by clicking here. It’s pretty old but we went over some great words, pronunciations, and idioms in that one.
Okay, what food did I miss? What are the traditions in your family or that you’ve seen that you cannot believe I left out? What feast do you have in your culture that reminds you of thanksgiving? And most importantly, what are you thankful for this year? Let me know all of this in the comments below.
If you’re new to Rachel’s English, I make videos on the English language every Tuesday, primarily to help non-native speakers of American English feel more comfortable and confident speaking English. I also have a bunch of courses in my online school Rachel’s English academy, where you can train to take your English communication skills to the next level. Check it out at RachelsEnglishacademy.comDon’t forget to like and subscribe, and keep your learning going right now by watching this new video. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.