• In general: the fourth Thursday in November
  • 2011 date: November 24
  • 2012 date: November 22
  • 2013 date: November 28
  • 2014 date: November 27
  • 2015 date: November 26


This federal and popular holiday has traditionally been a time to give thanks to God. It had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks to God for a good harvest, as well as to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season. When Europeans first arrived to the Americas, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest. The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. Today, U.S. tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Pilgrims. It is continued in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner.

Traditional observance

Certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. Firstly, baked or roasted turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table. Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, various fall vegetables and pumpkin pie are also very common. All of these are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived. The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in various forms. Religious and spiritual organisations offer services and events on Thanksgiving themes at the time of Thanksgiving. At home, it is a holiday tradition to begin the Thanksgiving dinner by saying grace. Thanksgiving is a four- or five-day weekend vacation for schools and colleges. Most business and government workers are given Thanksgiving and the day after as paid holidays. Also, there are parades in larger cities, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC being the most famous one. American football is another important part of Thanksgiving celebrations. Professional football games are often held on the holiday.

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