Thanksgiving Day in the United States – History, Celebration, and Everything You need to know About the Day

Thanksgiving day in USA is a federal holiday and falls on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a day to observe the harvest season and the end of a blissful year.

The American holiday associates with rich legends and symbols. A turkey and pumpkin pie denotes the feast of Thanksgiving Day. It is the busiest holiday of the year, as family members gather with one another.

When is Thanksgiving Day in United States in 2021?

In 2021, the Thanksgiving Day holiday will fall on Thursday, November 25 in the United States.

Most government offices, businesses, schools, universities, colleges, and other organizations remain closed on Thanksgiving Day. Also, many offices and businesses allow staff to have a long four-day weekend for Thanksgiving.

History of Thanksgiving Day

Harvest Celebration of the Pilgrims in Plymouth

In 1620 the Mayflower brought 102 Pilgrims to Massachusetts from England. They made their new home in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Half of the Pilgrims died of cold and lack of food during their first winter in North America.

The following year, the Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe, helped them grow crops. At harvest time in the autumn of 1621, they were very grateful for having a good food crop to eat during the coming winter. They thanked God and the Native Americans for teaching them how to grow the local foods. So, they invited the Wampanoags who had helped them to their feast. The Wampanoags came with their families and also brought turkey, duck, fish, deer, berries, squash, cornbread, and vegetables grown in their fields.

Thanksgiving Day history

Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to this harvest celebration the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought.

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Evolution of Thanksgiving Day

  • In the second half of the 1600s, thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become one of the annual events. However, the celebrations would occur on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one thanksgiving each year.

  • George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.

  • Yet, after 1798, the new U.S. Congress left Thanksgiving declarations to the states; and were slow to adopt a New England custom.

  •  Sarah Josepha Hale is considered as the “Mother of Thanksgiving Day”. She is the editor of the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book and the well known nursery rhyme Mary had a Little Lamb. She campaigned for a national holiday for thanksgiving day and finally won the support of President Abraham Lincoln. On October 3, 1863, during the Civil War, Lincoln manifested a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.
Sara joseph Hale and Abrahim Lincoln

  • In a joint resolution of Congress in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1942 designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Significance

As the country became more urban and family members began to live farther apart, Thanksgiving has become a time to gather. The holiday connected with Pilgrims and Native Americans now symbolizes intercultural peace, America’s opportunity for newcomers, and the sanctity of home and family. 

Thanksgiving Day Celebration in United States

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday is a four-day holiday, starting on Thanksgiving Thursday and ending on Sunday. The first day after Thanksgiving Day called Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. The American “Holiday Season” generally begins with Thanksgiving.

Special Turkey Meal

Turkey has become the symbol of the holiday. Families and friends usually eat a special meal together with a turkey as the main dish. This meal also usually includes mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, several casseroles, and stuffing. 

Turkey and other dishes
Football Games

Thanksgiving Day football games add joy and enthusiasm to the holiday. The first game was Yale versus Princeton in 1876.

Thanksgiving Day football games in the United States
Parades

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City attracts around 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route. It draws an enormous television audience. It generally features marching bands, performers, elaborate and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.

Macy's Parade

ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth, Massachusetts, McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago, are some parades occurring in different US cities.

For Thanksgiving Day Greetings and messages, also read – Thanksgiving Day article.

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