Every country has its own special holiday and Thanksgiving is deemed the biggest on the American events calendar. It takes place on the last Thursday of November and Americans deem it bigger than Christmas; there are parades, large inflatable turkeys gracing the streets and mouthwatering dinners that will fill you for weeks.
The history of Thanksgiving goes back to the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. In 1621, the Plymouth Plantation saw a feast where both Pilgrims and Native Americans came together to share food and to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. In 1620, the harvests had failed and half of the Pilgrims has starved to death the other half on the brink until the Wampanoag tribe taught the Pilgrims how to catch fish and seafood and how to grow their own vegetables and legumes. Turkey is the traditional meat of choice but, on the very first Thanksgiving, it is more likely that fish, poultry and deer would have been on the menu. After Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, turkey became the staple bid of Thanksgiving because, being a large bird, it had the ability to feed the whole family on the day and for several days after. Today, turkey is the chosen meat for the holiday as turkey originated from America and is, as we all know, a very delicious bird.
Many Americans fly home for the Thanksgiving holidays but for those who can’t, it can be hard to know where to go to celebrate, especially when it isn’t celebrated in the country you’re in. In London, there are a plethora of American restaurants that are guaranteed to be serving up a classic Thanksgiving feast, such as Christopher’s in Covent Garden who are cooking up a fine dining spread on the 24th November which includes a slow-cooked turkey, corn & chorizo chowder and pumpkin pie for the price of £58 per person. There are other options on the menu so, if you’re looking for something a little different, Christopher’s near the London City Suites Barbican is a great place to go. However, if an American is homesick and wants Thanksgiving in classically American setting, there is only one place to go and that is the London home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Benjamin Franklin was a man ahead of his time; he is known as the father of electricity and is the one who coined many electrical terms such as ‘battery’, ‘positive’, ‘negative’ and ‘charge’. He was a philosopher, a writer and more famously known as a diplomat who signed all four documents that created the United States; The Declaration of Independence (1776), Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), Treaty of Paris (1783) and The Constitution (1787). Today, 226 years after his death, he is thought to be one of the greatest Americans who has ever lived and his house on Craven Street has become a shrine to all those travelling from the USA.
Number 36 Craven Street, near accommodation in London, was the home to Benjamin Franklin for many years in the 18th century and was the place where many new inventions were created. From here, Franklin created a three-wheeled 24 clock, the ‘Franklin Stove’ draught guard, a lightening rod which sits atop St Paul’s Cathedral and, possibly another of his greatest inventions, the bifocal glasses. The house is the world’s last remaining home of Benjamin Franklin and it has gained Grade I listed status with many of the original features still in tact such as the main staircase, the windows, beams, stoves and paneling. It holds huge cultural significance and it is close to London’s own heart as it was the first de facto US Embassy, hugely contributing to the Anglo-American relations. You can take a tour of the house where there is a full on historical experience with technology and live performances taking you back to when the house was occupied by Franklin as well as a hands-on science centre and research centre for students who are studying Benjamin’s work.
This historical place is the perfect setting for Thanksgiving and, for a child, you can indulge in a classic Thanksgiving feast while in the confines of one of the Founding Fathers’ homes. As an American, it is the perfect way to give thanks.