I know you guys have been thinking "Ok, we already had a harvest festival, and then another harvest festival, but when are we gonna have a harvest festival?" Fear not, for Pilgrim's Bounty is here! "It's time to reflect on your journeys and good fortune, share plentiful food, and stories with friends." This holiday is obviously based on the USian Thanksgiving holiday, leaving out most of the juicy historical bits in order to emphasize EATING.
The in-game holiday itself is very straightforward. Get together, reflect, eat. The original concept of "thanks-giving" was similarly nebulous, and New England colonists frequently celebrated with religious ceremonies and feasting after a successful harvest, a military victory, or an end of a drought. In fact, Thanksgiving did not become an official, set holiday until declared so by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Before then, Presidents Washington, Adams, and Madison, along with many governors, had declared days of thanks-giving at different points throughout the year. President Roosevelt caused trouble in 1939 when he declared the fourth Thursday, rather than the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving. In light of The Great Depression, he had been advised to make the holiday earlier in order to extend the Christmas shopping season. (At the time, it was inappropriate to advertise Xmas-related things before Thanksgiving. What I wouldn't give for that same sensibility now...) Half of the nation agreed to this change, the other half did not, and some states simply took both Thursdays as holidays. Good choice!
Azeroth skips over the history behind the holiday, avoiding messy explanations of religious persecution, fleeing to a new and potentially inhospitable land, making friends with the locals, and having a 3 day food extravaganza (the kids' version!). The only remnant of the Plymouth Pilgrim story is in the attire you can get as daily quest rewards: Pilgrim's Hat, Pilgrim's Dress, Pilgrim's Attire, Pilgrim's Boots, and incongruously, Pilgrim's Robe. Some fun facts about pilgrims: The word pilgrim describes a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. William Bradford used the term first in 1620, intentionally calling to mind the religious associations. It was not used again until he was quoted by historians 50 years later, and again in 1793 at a Forefather's observance, and finally by Daniel Webster in 1820 in his Plymouth bicentennial address, when the term stuck. Despite the fact that images of pilgrims today feature harsh black and white clothing accented with dapper gold buckles, pilgrims dressed themselves in all colors that could be found in natural dye. They used simple laces in their clothing, as buckles were expensive. The so-called pilgrim fashion was based on what was popular in England at the time!
Blizzard has also removed other staples of the holiday, namely parades and sporting events, in favor of more amusing pursuits. Players are first directed to enjoy 5 helpings of every dish at the feast, earning them the Spirit of Sharing buff. There's an achievement for politely passing the food, but there's also one for chucking it at your dinner guests! If you get really hungry, you can even visit the opposing faction's feast tables to partake. Be sure to throw on your best pilgrim duds to get another achievement! While your at it, pack a couple one-time use Turkey Shooters to nab any rogues you happen across. "You tweachewous miscweant!"
Thanksgiving is a huge travel weekend, when people trek across the nation to be with family and friends on the holiday. You'll be traveling in game as well, but not so you can relax at your destination! The in-game quest chain and resulting dailies keep players going round and round their capital cities, cooking up Spice Bread Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie, Cranberry Chutney, Candied Sweet Potatoes, and Slow-Roasted Turkeys, which you can learn from a Bountiful Cookbook. All of these foods are native to the Americas, along with other staples like sweet corn and squash. This holiday is the absolute best way to level your cooking from 1-350, so long as you have coin to buy the seasonal mats and the patience to visit every capital city each day. In that regard, it is very similar to the real-world holiday. Being the cook for Thanksgiving is brutal! After preparing your dishes, you can use a Bountiful Basket to combine them into a Bountiful Feast. Modern-day cornucopias are depicted as wicker baskets, but the original cornucopia is a horn, broken off from either a goat or a river god. They are closely associated with the harvest and Thanksgiving - do you still have yours from Harvest Festival?
Naturally, there is a cooking achievement. Of course, you'll have to gather your mats, some of which cannot be purchased from vendors! Wild Turkeys roam the forests of Elwynn and Tirisfal, waiting to be mercilessly slaughtered for our tables. If you're quick enough, you can even achieve Turkey Triumph and become The Turkinator. In post Civil-War New England, celebrants used to hold shooting matches aiming for - you guessed it - turkeys. I feel so authentic! Did you know that since the mid-20th century, the National Turkey Federation presents the president with 1 live and 2 dressed turkeys on Thanksgiving? A tradition since 1989, the president has officially pardoned the turkey, allowing it to live out its remaining years on a quiet farm. I always preferred ham anyway.
This holiday is NOT REQUIRED for What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been! However, you can get a sweet title and self-sacrificing minipet, should you complete the 10 associated achievements, earning 100 points. You can find WoW Insider's guide here and Wowhead's compilation here. A good guide for using this holiday to level cooking can be found here. If you're feeling snacky, head over to The Gamer's Fridge and cook up something nice for yourself!