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Holiday Heritage: Food, Thanksgiving, Black Family Traditions

Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday for the average African-American family. It is where we give thanks and gather with each other over scrumptious sweet potato pie, collard greens, turkey, fried chicken, candied yams, and more. 

One of the main traditions of the African-American Thanksgiving holiday is to pray. The families give thanks and pray to the Creator for the multiple blessings that they have received physically and spiritually, such as seeing another day and being able to gather once more. Thanksgiving in the ordinary African-American home is a spiritual day where every little detail of life, love, and lecture is deeply appreciated. The tenderness of Thanksgiving is really something to be thankful for in an African-American family.

Another important aspect of the traditional Thanksgiving in an African-American household is the food, of course. Food has always played important roles in the black family. Food has been a time of bonding and special nourishment before it became a tradition. Think about it… Where do we learn the technique of frying and preserving chicken? How do we know how to make even the hooves of a pig taste like a delicacy? Well, since slavery days in America, food has been a way that African-Americans worship, and we take our time and put our souls into it because we know that enrichment calls for special instruction. 

I say that to explain that “soul food” is such a specialty of African-American Thanksgiving scene.  For example, families of direct African descent engage in meals of okra soup and jollof. Those new Louisiana enjoy delicious meals such as gumbo. African-American families here in the Deep South devour dishes of sweet potato and cornbread hash. Not only is the food delicious, but it often has a story behind it, love into it, and it brings the family closer. Then they all take a seat at the table, and go watch the pigskin(football) be tossed! 

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