Thanksgiving (United States)

Thanksgiving (United States)

Overview
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has officially been an annual tradition since 1863, when, during the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26. As a federal and popular holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year.
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Encyclopedia
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has officially been an annual tradition since 1863, when, during the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26. As a federal and popular holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. Together with Christmas and the New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.

The event that some Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims to give thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. The feast consisted of fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 (cod
Cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

, eel
Eel
Eels are an order of fish, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and approximately 800 species. Most eels are predators...

s, and bass
Bass (fish)
Bass is a name shared by many different species of popular gamefish. The term encompasses both freshwater and marine species. All belong to the large order Perciformes, or perch-like fishes, and in fact the word bass comes from Middle English bars, meaning "perch."-Types of basses:*The temperate...

) and shellfish (clam
Clam
The word "clam" can be applied to freshwater mussels, and other freshwater bivalves, as well as marine bivalves.In the United States, "clam" can be used in several different ways: one, as a general term covering all bivalve molluscs...

s, lobster
Lobster
Clawed lobsters comprise a family of large marine crustaceans. Highly prized as seafood, lobsters are economically important, and are often one of the most profitable commodities in coastal areas they populate.Though several groups of crustaceans are known as lobsters, the clawed lobsters are most...

, and mussel
Mussel
The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.The...

s), wild fowl
Fowl
Fowl is a word for birds in general but usually refers to birds belonging to one of two biological orders, namely the gamefowl or landfowl and the waterfowl...

 (duck
Duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

s, geese
Goose
The word goose is the English name for a group of waterfowl, belonging to the family Anatidae. This family also includes swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, which are smaller....

, swan
Swan
Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae...

s, and turkey
Turkey (bird)
A turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species...

), venison
Venison
Venison is the meat of a game animal, especially a deer but also other animals such as antelope, wild boar, etc.-Etymology:The word derives from the Latin vēnor...

, berries and fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

, vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

s (pea
Pea
A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

s, pumpkin
Pumpkin
A pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae . It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America...

, beetroot
Beetroot
The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America, Central America and Britain.-Consumption:The usually deep-red roots of beetroot are...

 and possibly, wild
Allium
Allium is a monocot genus of flowering plants, informally referred to as the onion genus. The generic name Allium is the Latin word for garlic....

 or cultivated onion
Onion
The onion , also known as the bulb onion, common onion and garden onion, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion The onion...

), harvest grains (barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 and wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

), and the Three Sisters
Three Sisters (agriculture)
The Three Sisters are the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: squash, maize, and climbing beans ....

: bean
Bean
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human food or animal feed....

s, dried Indian maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 or corn, and squash. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"—days of prayer
Day of Prayer
A Day of Prayer is a day allocated to prayer, either by leaders of religions or the general public, for a specific purpose. Such days are usually ecumenical in nature.-World Day of Prayer for Peace:...

 thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.

History


The first documented thanksgiving feasts in territory currently belonging to the United States were conducted by Spaniards in the 16th century. Thanksgiving services were routine in what was to become the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607, with the first permanent settlement of Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

 holding a thanksgiving in 1610.

On December 4, 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred
Berkeley Hundred
Berkeley Hundred in the Virginia Colony comprised about eight thousand acres on the north bank of the James River near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie . It was named for one of the original founders, Richard Berkeley, a member of the Berkeley family of Gloucestershire, England...

, which comprised about 8000 acres (3,237.5 ha) on the north bank of the James River
James River
The James River may refer to:Rivers in the United States and their namesakes* James River * James River , North Dakota, South Dakota* James River * James River * James River...

, near Herring Creek, in an area then known as Charles Cittie
Charles City (Virginia Company)
Charles City was one of four incorporations established in the Virginia Colony in 1619 by the proprietor, the Virginia Company. The plantations and developments were divided into four "incorporations" or "citties" , as they were called. These were Charles City, Elizabeth City, Henrico City, and...

, about 20 miles (32.2 km) upstream from Jamestown
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia had been established on May 14, 1607.

The group's charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a "day of thanksgiving" to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodlief held the service of thanksgiving. As quoted from the section of the Charter of Berkeley Hundred specifying the thanksgiving service: "We ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."

During the Indian massacre of 1622
Indian massacre of 1622
The Indian Massacre of 1622 occurred in the Colony of Virginia, in what now belongs to the United States of America, on Friday, March 22, 1622...

, nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundreds were killed, as well as about a third of the entire population of the Virginia Colony. The Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned as the colonists withdrew to Jamestown and other more secure points.

After several years, the site became Berkeley Plantation
Berkeley Plantation
Berkeley Plantation, one of the first great estates in America, comprises about on the banks of the James River on State Route 5 in Charles City County, Virginia. Berkeley Plantation was originally called Berkeley Hundred and named after one of its founders of the 1618 land grant, Richard Berkeley...

, and was long the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia
First Families of Virginia
First Families of Virginia were those families in Colonial Virginia who were socially prominent and wealthy, but not necessarily the earliest settlers. They originated with colonists from England who primarily settled at Jamestown, Williamsburg, and along the James River and other navigable waters...

. In 1634, it became part of the first eight shires of Virginia
Shires of Virginia
The eight Shires of Virginia were formed in 1634 in the Virginia Colony. These shires were based on a form of local government used in England at the time, and were redesignated as counties a few years later...

, as Charles City County
Charles City County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,926 people, 2,670 households, and 1,975 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile . There were 2,895 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile...

, one of the oldest in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and is located along Virginia State Route 5
Virginia State Route 5
State Route 5 runs between the independent cities of Richmond and Williamsburg in the U.S. state of Virginia. Between Charles City County and James City County, it crosses the Chickahominy River via the Judith Stewart Dresser Bridge, a fixed-span bridge which replaced historic Barrett's Ferry and...

, which runs parallel to the river's northern borders past sites of many of the James River plantations
James River plantations
James River plantations were established in the Virginia Colony along the James River between the mouth at Hampton Roads and the head of navigation at the fall line where Richmond is today.- History :...

 between the colonial capital city of Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 Census, the city had an estimated population of 14,068. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city...

 (now the site of Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is the private foundation representing the historic district of the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. The district includes buildings dating from 1699 to 1780 which made colonial Virginia's capital. The capital straddled the boundary of the original shires of Virginia —...

) and the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia at Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

.

Thanksgiving observed by the Pilgrims at Plymouth


The modern Thanksgiving holiday traces its origins from a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. This was continued in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance, and later as a civil tradition.

Squanto
Squanto
Tisquantum was a Patuxet. He was the Native American who assisted the Pilgrims after their first winter in the New World and was integral to their survival. The Patuxet tribe was a tributary of the Wampanoag Confederacy.-Biography:Squanto's exact date of birth is unknown but many historians...

, a Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them (Squanto had learned English while enslaved in Europe and during travels in England). Additionally the Wampanoag leader Massasoit
Massasoit
Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin ,was the sachem, or leader, of the Pokanoket, and "Massasoit" of the Wampanoag Confederacy. The term Massasoit means Great Sachem.-Early years:...

 had donated food stores to the fledgling colony during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient. The Pilgrims set apart a day to celebrate at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest, in 1621. At the time, this was not regarded as a Thanksgiving observance; harvest festivals existed in English and Wampanoag tradition alike. Several colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists, are not to be confused with Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

s who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Massachusetts Bay Colony was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century, in New England, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston. The territory administered by the colony included much of present-day central New England, including portions...

 nearby (current day Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

) in 1628 and had very different religious beliefs.

William Bradford, in Of Plymouth Plantation
Of Plymouth Plantation
Written over a period of years by the leader of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation is the single most complete authority for the story of the Pilgrims and the early years of the Colony they founded...

:
Thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity. They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.


Edward Winslow
Edward Winslow
Edward Winslow was an English Pilgrim leader on the Mayflower. He served as the governor of Plymouth Colony in 1633, 1636, and finally in 1644...

, in Mourt's Relation
Mourt's Relation
The book Mourt's Relation was written primarily by Edward Winslow, although William Bradford appears to have written most of the first section...

:
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit
Massasoit
Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin ,was the sachem, or leader, of the Pokanoket, and "Massasoit" of the Wampanoag Confederacy. The term Massasoit means Great Sachem.-Early years:...

, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.


The Pilgrims held an even greater Thanksgiving celebration in 1623, after a switch from communal farming to privatized farming, a fast, and a refreshing 14-day rain resulted in a larger harvest. William DeLoss Love calculates that this thanksgiving was made on Wednesday, July 30, 1623, a day prior to the arrival of a supply ship with more colonists, but prior to the fall harvest. In Love's opinion this 1623 thanksgiving was significant because the order to recognize the event was from civil authority, (Governor Bradford) and not from the church, making it likely the first civil recognition of Thanksgiving in New England.

Referring to the 1623 harvest after the nearly catastrophic drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

, Bradford wrote:
Irregular thanksgivings continued after favorable events and days of fasting after unfavorable ones. In the Plymouth tradition, a thanksgiving day was primarily a church observance, rather than a feast day. But thanksgiving days did have a civil observance linked to the religious one, as in 1623. Gradually, an annual Thanksgiving after the harvest developed in the mid-17th century. This did not occur on any set day or necessarily on the same day in different colonies in America.

Other colonies


The Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Massachusetts Bay Colony was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century, in New England, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston. The territory administered by the colony included much of present-day central New England, including portions...

 (consisting mainly of Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 Christians) celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time in 1630, and frequently thereafter until about 1680, when it became an annual festival in that colony; and Connecticut as early as 1639 and annually after 1647, except in 1675. The Dutch in New Netherland
New Netherland
New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland in Dutch, was the 17th-century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories were the lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod...

 appointed a day for giving thanks in 1644 and occasionally thereafter.

Charlestown, Massachusetts
Charlestown, Massachusetts
Charlestown is a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, United States, and is located on a peninsula north of downtown Boston. Charlestown was originally a separate town and the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it became a city in 1847 and was annexed by Boston on January 5, 1874...

, held the first recorded Thanksgiving observance June 29, 1671, by proclamation of the town's governing council.

Later in the 18th century, individual colonies would periodically designate a day of thanksgiving in honor of a military victory, an adoption of a state constitution or an exceptionally bountiful crop. Such a Thanksgiving Day celebration was held in December 1777 by the colonies nationwide, commemorating the surrender of British General Burgoyne
John Burgoyne
General John Burgoyne was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, mostly notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762....

 at Saratoga.

During the 18th century, individual colonies commonly observed days of thanksgiving throughout each year. We might not recognize a traditional Thanksgiving Day from that period, as it was not a day marked by plentiful food and drink as is today's custom, but rather a day set aside for prayer and fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

.

The Revolutionary War to nationhood


During the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 the Continental Congress appointed one or more thanksgiving days each year, each time recommending to the executives of the various states the observance of these days in their states.

The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777:

FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth "in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.



George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, leader of the revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a Thanksgiving in December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga.

Thanksgiving proclamations in the first thirty years of nationhood


On Thursday, September 24, 1789, the first House of Representatives voted to recommend the First Amendment of the newly drafted Constitution to the states for ratification. The next day, Congressman Elias Boudinot from New Jersey proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for “the many signal favors of Almighty God.” Boudinot said that he “could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.”

As President, on October 3, 1789, George Washington made the following proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America:
George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 again proclaimed a Thanksgiving in 1795.

President John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 declared Thanksgivings in 1798 and 1799. No Thanksgiving proclamations were issued by Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 but James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 renewed the tradition in 1814, in response to resolutions of Congress, at the close of the War of 1812. Madison also declared the holiday twice in 1815; however, none of these was celebrated in autumn. In 1816, Governor Plumer of New Hampshire appointed Thursday, November 14 to be observed as a day of Public Thanksgiving and Governor Brooks of Massachusetts appointed Thursday, November 28 to be "observed throughout that State as a day of Thanksgiving."

A thanksgiving day was annually appointed by the governor of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 from 1817. In some of the Southern states
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, there was opposition to the observance of such a day on the ground that it was a relic of Puritanic bigotry, but by 1858 proclamations appointing a day of thanksgiving were issued by the governors of 25 states and two territories.

Lincoln and the Civil War



In the middle of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale
Sarah Josepha Hale
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was an American writer and an influential editor. She is the author of the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb"...

, proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863:
Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.

Post-Civil War Era


During the second half of the 19th century, Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from region to region. A traditional New England Thanksgiving, for example, consisted of a raffle held on Thanksgiving eve (in which the prizes were mainly geese or turkeys), a shooting match on Thanksgiving morning (in which unfortunate turkeys and chickens were used as targets), church services, and then the traditional feast which consisted of some familiar Thanksgiving staples such as turkey and pumpkin pie, and some not-so-familiar dishes such as pigeon pie. The earliest high school football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 rivalries took root in the late 19th century in Massachusetts, stemming from games played on Thanksgiving; professional football took root as a Thanksgiving staple during the sport's genesis in the 1890s, and the tradition of Thanksgiving football both at the high school and professional level continues to this day. In New York City, people would dress up in fanciful masks and costumes and roam the streets in merry-making mobs. By the beginning of the 20th century these mobs had morphed into "ragamuffin parades" consisting mostly of children dressed as "ragamuffins" in costumes of old and mismatched adult clothes and with deliberately smudged faces, and by the late 1950s the tradition had vanished entirely.

1939 to 1941


Abraham Lincoln's successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. But in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 broke with this tradition. November had five Thursdays that year (instead of the usual four), and Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression. At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate
Christmas creep
Christmas creep is a merchandising phenomenon in which merchants and retailers exploit the commercialized status of Christmas by moving up the start of the holiday shopping season. The term was first used in the mid 1980s...

. Fred Lazarus, Jr.
Fred Lazarus, Jr.
Fred R. Lazarus, Jr. was the Jewish-American founder of Federated Department Stores . Born in Columbus, Ohio, Fred, the second of four brothers , grew up working in his family's store, F...

, founder of the Federated Department Stores
Federated Department Stores
Macy's, Inc. is a department store holding company and owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale's department stores. Macy's Inc.'s stores specialize mostly in retail clothing, jewelery, watches, dinnerware, and furniture....

 (later Macy's
Macy's
Macy's is a U.S. chain of mid-to-high range department stores. In addition to its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, the company operates over 800 stores in the United States...

), is credited with convincing Roosevelt to push Thanksgiving back a week to expand the shopping season.

Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln. People began referring to Nov. 30 as the "Republican Thanksgiving" and Nov. 23 as the "Democratic Thanksgiving" or "Franksgiving
Franksgiving
Franksgiving is a portmanteau of "Franklin" and "Thanksgiving", coined by Atlantic City mayor Thomas Taggart to describe the American Thanksgiving holiday from 1939–1941....

". Regardless of the politics, many localities had made a tradition of celebrating on the last Thursday, and many football teams had a tradition of playing their final games of the season on Thanksgiving; with their schedules set well in advance, they could not change. Since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, Roosevelt's change was widely disregarded. Twenty-three states went along with Roosevelt's recommendation, 22 did not, and some, like Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, could not decide and took both days as government holidays.

In 1940 and 1941, years in which November had four Thursdays, Roosevelt declared the third one as Thanksgiving. As in 1939, some states went along with the change while others retained the traditional last-Thursday date.

1942 to present


On October 6, 1941, both houses of the U.S. Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passed a joint resolution fixing the traditional last-Thursday date for the holiday beginning in 1942. However, in December of that year the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 passed an amendment to the resolution that split the difference by requiring that Thanksgiving be observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November, which was sometimes the last Thursday and sometimes (less frequently) the next to last. On December 26, 1941 President Roosevelt signed this bill, for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law and fixing the day as the fourth Thursday of November. However, for several years some states continued to observe the last-Thursday date in years with five November Thursdays, with Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 doing so as late as 1956.

Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation
National Turkey Federation
The National Turkey Federation is the non-profit national trade association based in Washington, D.C. representing the turkey industry and its allies and affiliates. NTF advocates for all segments of the turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities which increase demand for its...

 has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys, in a ceremony known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation
National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation
National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a ceremony that takes place at the White House every year shortly before Thanksgiving. The President of the United States is presented with a live domestic turkey, usually of the Broad Breasted White variety. Generally the National Turkey Federation and...

. In a tradition that began as a one-off joke by Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 in 1987 and made permanent by George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 in 1989, the live turkey is "pardon
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

ed" and lives out the rest of its days on a nearby peaceful farm. There are legends that state that the "pardoning" tradition dates to the Harry Truman administration or even to an anecdote of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 pardoning his son's pet turkey; both stories have been quoted in more recent presidential speeches, but neither has any evidence in the Presidential record. In more recent years, two turkeys have been pardoned, in case the original turkey becomes unavailable for presidential pardoning.

Foods of the season



U.S. tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims
Pilgrims
Pilgrims , or Pilgrim Fathers , is a name commonly applied to early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States...

 who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts
Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691. The first settlement of the Plymouth Colony was at New Plymouth, a location previously surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement, which served as the capital of the colony, is today the modern town...

. It is continued in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving dinner
The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a large meal, generally centered around a large roasted turkey. The majority of the dishes in the...

, traditionally featuring turkey, playing a central role in the celebration of Thanksgiving.

In the United States, 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 (so much so that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as "Turkey Day"). Stuffing
Stuffing
In cooking, stuffing or filling is an edible substance or mixture, often a starch, used to fill a cavity in another food item...

, mashed potato
Mashed potato
Mashed potato is made by mashing freshly boiled potatoes with a ricer, fork, potato masher, food mill, or whipping them with a hand beater. Dehydrated and frozen mashed potatoes are available in many places...

es with gravy
Gravy
Gravy is a sauce made often from the juices that run naturally from meat or vegetables during cooking. In North America the term can refer to a wider variety of sauces and gravy is often thicker than in Britain...

, sweet potato
Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of...

es, cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly is a sauce or relish made out of cranberries, commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner in North America and Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom...

, sweet corn, various fall vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

s (mainly various kinds of squashes), and pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie is a traditional sweet dessert, often eaten during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada. The pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time and featured also at Halloween....

 are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. All of these are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived. Turkey may be an exception. In his book Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick
Nathaniel Philbrick
Nathaniel Philbrick is an American author and a winner of the National Book Award for his 2000 work of maritime history In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. He is member of the Philbrick literary family.-Life:...

 suggests that the Pilgrims might already have been familiar with turkey in England, even though the bird is native to the Americas. The Spaniards had brought domesticated turkeys back from Central America in the early 1600s, and the birds soon became popular fare all over Europe, including England, where turkey (as an alternative to the traditional goose) became a "fixture at English Christmases".

The less fortunate are often provided with food at Thanksgiving time. Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners.

Giving thanks


Thanksgiving was originally a religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose. Historic reasons for community thanksgivings are: the 1541 thanksgiving mass after the expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado y Luján was a Spanish conquistador, who visited New Mexico and other parts of what are now the southwestern United States between 1540 and 1542...

 safely crossing the high plains of Texas and finding game, and the 1777 thanksgiving after the victory in the Revolutionary War Battle of Saratoga. In his 1789 Proclamation, President Washington gave many noble reasons for a national Thanksgiving, including "for the civil and religious liberty", for "useful knowledge", and for God’s "kind care" and "His Providence". The only presidents to express a specifically Christian perspective in their proclamation have been Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

 in 1896, and William McKinley
William McKinley
William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States . He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s...

 in 1900. Several other presidents have cited the Judeo-Christian tradition. Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

's 1975 declaration made no clear reference to any divinity.

The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in various forms. Various religious and spiritual organizations offer services and events on Thanksgiving themes the weekend before, the day of, or the weekend after Thanksgiving.

At home, it is a holiday tradition in many families to begin the Thanksgiving dinner by saying grace
Grace (prayer)
Grace is a name for any of a number of short prayers said or an unvoiced intention held prior to or after eating, thanking God and/or the entities that have given of themselves to furnish nutrients to those partaking in the meal. Some traditions hold that grace and thanksgiving imparts a blessing...

 (a prayer before or after a meal). The custom is portrayed in the photograph "Family Holding Hands and Praying Before a Thanksgiving Meal". Traditionally, grace was led by the hostess or host, though in later times it is usual for others to contribute.

Vacation and travel


On Thanksgiving Day, families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner. Consequently, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel
Travel
Travel is the movement of people or objects between relatively distant geographical locations. 'Travel' can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.-Etymology:...

 periods of the year. Thanksgiving is a four-day or five-day weekend vacation for schools and colleges. Most business and government workers (78% in 2007) are given Thanksgiving and the day after as paid holidays. Thanksgiving Eve, the night before Thanksgiving, is one of the busiest nights of the year for bars and clubs, as many college students and others return to their hometowns to reunite with friends and family.

Parades


Since 1924, in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, often shortened to Macy's Day Parade, is an annual parade presented by Macy's. The tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States along with America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, and four years younger than...

 is held annually every Thanksgiving Day from the Upper West Side of Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 to Macy's
Macy's
Macy's is a U.S. chain of mid-to-high range department stores. In addition to its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, the company operates over 800 stores in the United States...

 flagship store in Herald Square
Herald Square
Herald Square is formed by the intersection of Broadway, Sixth Avenue and 34th Street in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Named for the New York Herald, a now-defunct newspaper formerly headquartered there, it also gives its name to the surrounding area...

, and televised nationally by NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

. The parade features parade floats
Float (parade)
A float is a decorated platform, either built on a vehicle or towed behind one, which is a component of many festive parades, such as those of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Carnival of Viareggio, the Maltese Carnival, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Key West Fantasy Fest parade, the...

 with specific themes, scenes from Broadway plays, large balloons of cartoon characters and TV personalities, and high school marching bands. The float that traditionally ends the Macy's Parade is the Santa Claus
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...

 float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the Christmas season.

Also founded in 1924, America's Thanksgiving Parade
America's Thanksgiving Parade
America's Thanksgiving Parade, is an annual parade held on Thanksgiving Day in downtown Detroit, Michigan. The tradition started in the city in 1924 by the J.L. Hudson Company department store...

 in Detroit is one of the largest parades in the country. The parade runs from Midtown
Midtown, Detroit
The Midtown area in Detroit is a mixed-use area located along the east and west side of Woodward Avenue between Downtown Detroit and the New Center. The community area of neighborhoods is bounded by the Chrysler Freeway on the east, the Lodge Freeway on the west, the Edsel Ford Freeway on the...

 to Downtown Detroit
Downtown Detroit
Downtown Detroit is the central business district and a residential area of Detroit, Michigan, United States. Downtown is bordered by the Lodge Freeway to the west, the Fisher Freeway to the north, Interstate 375 to the east, and the Detroit River to the south.Downtown contains much historic...

 and precedes the annual Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 Thanksgiving football game. The parade includes large balloons, marching bands, and various celebrity guests much like the Macy's
Macy's
Macy's is a U.S. chain of mid-to-high range department stores. In addition to its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, the company operates over 800 stores in the United States...

 parade and is nationally televised on various affiliate stations. The Mayor of Detroit closes the parade by giving Santa Claus
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...

 a key to the city.

There are Thanksgiving parades in many other cities, including:
  • 6abc
    WPVI-TV
    WPVI-TV, channel 6, is an owned-and-operated television station of the Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. WPVI has its studios located on the border between Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd, and its transmitter is located in the...

     Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade
    (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Ameren
    Ameren
    Ameren Corporation was created December 31, 1997 by the merger of Missouri's Union Electric Company and the neighboring Central Illinois Public Service Company . It is now a holding company for several power companies and energy companies. The company is based in St...

     Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade
    (St. Louis, Missouri
    St. Louis, Missouri
    St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

    )
  • America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade
    America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade
    The America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade is an annual parade held in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The parade, which began in 1996, is traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving and draws its name from the fact that Plymouth Colony was the landing point of the Pilgrims involved in the...

    (Plymouth, Massachusetts)
  • Belk Carolinas' Carrousel Parade (Charlotte, North Carolina
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    Charlotte is the largest city in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. In 2010, Charlotte's population according to the US Census Bureau was 731,424, making it the 17th largest city in the United States based on population. The Charlotte metropolitan area had a 2009...

    )
  • FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl
    Sun Bowl
    The Sun Bowl is an annual U.S. college football bowl game that is usually played at the end of December in El Paso, Texas. The Sun Bowl, along with the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl are the second-oldest bowl games in the country, behind the Rose Bowl...

     Parade
    (El Paso, Texas
    El Paso, Texas
    El Paso, is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, and lies in far West Texas. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 649,121. It is the sixth largest city in Texas and the 19th largest city in the United States...

    )
  • H-E-B
    H-E-B
    HEB Grocery Company, LP is a privately held San Antonio, Texas-based supermarket chain with more than 315 stores throughout Texas and northern Mexico. The company also operates Central Market, an upscale organic and fine foods retailer.H-E-B ranked No...

     Holiday Parade
    (Houston, Texas)
  • McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade
    McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade
    The McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade, "Chicago's Grand Holiday Tradition," is an annual parade produced and presented by the Chicago Festival Association . It is held on State Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, every Thanksgiving morning starting at 8 am CST...

    (Chicago, Illinois
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

    )
  • My Macy's Holiday Parade
    Celebrate the Season Parade
    My Macy's Holiday Parade, formerly the Celebrate the Season Parade, is one of the traditional parades held each year in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by Macy's, it is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day; that is, the last Saturday in November...

    (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
  • Parada de los Cerros Thanksgiving Day Parade (Fountain Hills, Arizona)
  • UBS Parade Spectacular (Stamford, Connecticut
    Stamford, Connecticut
    Stamford is a city in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 122,643, making it the fourth largest city in the state and the eighth largest city in New England...

    ) - held the Sunday before Thanksgiving so it doesn't directly compete with the Macy's parade 30 miles away.


Most of these parades are televised on a local station, and some have small, usually regional, syndication networks; most also carry the parades via Internet television
Internet television
Internet television is the digital distribution of television content via the Internet...

 on the TV stations' websites.

Several other parades have a loose association with Thanksgiving, thanks to CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

's now-discontinued All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade coverage. Parades that were covered during this era were the Aloha Floral Parade held in Honolulu, Hawaii every September, the Toronto Santa Claus Parade
Toronto Santa Claus Parade
The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is a Santa Claus parade held annually in mid-November in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. More than a half million people attend the parade every year. The parade starts at 12:30pm and ends approximately 3:30pm...

 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, and the Opryland Aqua Parade (held from 1996 to 2001 by the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, formerly known as Opryland Hotel, is a large hotel and convention center located in Nashville, Tennessee and owned by Gaylord Hotels, a division of Gaylord Entertainment Company...

 in Nashville); the Opryland parade was discontinued and replaced by a taped parade in Miami Beach, Florida
Miami Beach, Florida
Miami Beach is a coastal resort city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States, incorporated on March 26, 1915. The municipality is located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, the latter which separates the Beach from Miami city proper...

 in 2002. A Disneyland parade was also featured on CBS until Disney purchased rival ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

.

Football



American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 is an important part of many Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Professional football games are often held on Thanksgiving Day; until recently, these were the only games played during the week apart from Sunday or Monday night. The National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 has played games on Thanksgiving every year since its creation; the tradition is referred to as the Thanksgiving Classic
Thanksgiving Classic
The National Football League's Thanksgiving Classic is a series of games played during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. It has been a regular occurrence since the league's inception in 1920. Since 2006, three games are played every Thanksgiving...

. The Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League , and play their home games at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.Originally based in Portsmouth, Ohio and...

 have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1934, with the exception of 1939–1944 (due to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

). In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

, who had been founded six years earlier, adopted the practice of hosting Thanksgiving games. It is widely rumored that the Cowboys sought a guarantee that they would regularly host Thanksgiving games as a condition of their very first one (since games on days other than Sunday were uncommon at the time and thus high attendance was not a certainty).

For many college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 teams, the regular season ends on Thanksgiving weekend, and a team's final game is often against a regional or historic rival. Most of these college games are played on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, but usually a single college game is played on Thanksgiving itself.

High school football
High school football
High school football, in North America, refers to the game of football as it is played in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both of these nations....

 games, and informal "Turkey Bowl" contests played by amateur groups and organizations, are frequently held on Thanksgiving weekend. Games of football proceeding or following the meal in the back yard or a nearby field are also common with during many family gatherings.

Other sports


In college basketball
College basketball
College basketball most often refers to the USA basketball competitive governance structure established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association . Basketball in the NCAA is divided into three divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III....

, the annual 76 Classic and Old Spice Classic
Old Spice Classic
The Old Spice Classic is an annual college basketball tournament played over Thanksgiving weekend. The inaugural tournament was held November, 23, 24, and 26, 2006. The tournament is played at the HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. In the current format, the...

 tournaments take place over Thanksgiving weekend, with many of the games being played on Thanksgiving itself. Games are televised on ESPN2
ESPN2
ESPN2 is an American sports cable television network owned by ESPN. The channel debuted on October 1, 1993.Originally nicknamed "the deuce," ESPN2 was initially branded as a network for a younger generation of sports fans featuring edgier graphics as well as extreme sports like motocross,...

 and ESPNU
ESPNU
ESPNU is a television channel that specializes in college sports, and is produced by, affiliated with and owned by parent network ESPN. ESPNU originates out of ESPN Regional Television's ESPNU (often referred to as The U) is a television channel that specializes in college sports, and is produced...

 in marathon
Marathon (television)
In television, a marathon is typically the sequential broadcast of a single or a number of related television programs, most notably reflecting a theme....

 format. This is a relatively new "tradition," as these tournaments were founded in 2007 and 2006 respectively. Competitor Versus
Versus (TV channel)
Versus is a sports-oriented cable television channel in the United States. It was previously known as Outdoor Life Network and was launched on July 1, 1995, focusing on fishing, hunting, and other outdoor sports...

 responded by acquiring the rights to the Battle 4 Atlantis
Battle 4 Atlantis
The Battle 4 Atlantis is a Kerzner International owned and operated preseason college basketball tournament that takes place in late November of each year, at Atlantis Resorts on Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas usually the week before Thanksgiving. The tournament is known for being the richest...

 tournament, previously aired the week before Thanksgiving, and moving it to Thanksgiving weekend in 2011. The National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 also has taken to playing on Thanksgiving, albeit in the evening, with a doubleheader
Doubleheader (television)
Doubleheader is used by network television to refer to two games in any sport aired back-to-back on the same network, even though they do not involve the same two teams . A doubleheader purposely coincides with a league's scheduling of "early" and "late" games...

 airing Thanksgiving night on TNT, a practice that began in 2009; the Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are an American professional basketball team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are part of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association .-The first years:...

 have hosted the early game each year, while the Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California, United States. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association...

 have been scheduled to host the late game in both 2010 and 2011 (both of the 2011 NBA Thanksgiving games were canceled due to a labor dispute
2011 NBA lockout
The 2011 NBA lockout is the fourth lockout in the history of the National Basketball Association . The owners began the work stoppage at 12:01 am EDT on July 1, 2011. The main issues dividing the owners and the players are revenue sharing and the structure of the salary cap...

).

Though golf
Golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

 and auto racing
Auto racing
Auto racing is a motorsport involving the racing of cars for competition. It is one of the world's most watched televised sports.-The beginning of racing:...

 are in their off-seasons on Thanksgiving, there are events in those sports that take place on Thanksgiving weekend. The Turkey Night Grand Prix
Turkey Night Grand Prix
The Turkey Night Grand Prix is an annual race of midget cars. It has been held on Thanksgiving night most years since 1934. It is currently held in Irwindale, California.-Drivers:The event is considered a major event in the midget cars series...

 is an annual automobile race that takes place at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Thanksgiving night; due in part to the fact that this is after the Sprint Cup Series and IZOD IndyCar Series have finished their seasons, it allows some of the top racers in the United States to participate. In golf, Thanksgiving weekend was the traditional time of the Skins Game from 1983 to 2008; the event was canceled in 2009 due to a lack of sponsorship and a difficulty in drawing star talent. A return was, at the time of the cancellation, planned for the next year, but no skins game was included when the PGA Tour released its schedule in 2010 or 2011, meaning the skins game is no more.

The world championship pumpkin chunking
Pumpkin chunking
Pumpkin Chucking, or for rhyming purposes Pumpkin Chunking is the sport of hurling or 'chucking' a pumpkin by mechanical means for distance...

 contest, held in early November in Sussex County, Delaware
Sussex County, Delaware
Sussex County is a county located in the southern part of the U.S. state of Delaware. As of 2010 the population was 197,145, an increase of 25.9% over the previous decade. The county seat is Georgetown. The Seaford Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Sussex County.Sussex County is...

, is televised on Thanksgiving on Science Channel.

In ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

, the National Hockey League
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

 announced, as part of its decade-long extension with NHL on NBC and Versus
NHL on Versus
The NHL on Versus was the former branding used for National Hockey League games broadcast on Versus. Versus became the NHL's cable partner in the United States beginning in the 2005-06 season from previous partner ESPN, providing coverage of regular season games, playoff games, and select games...

, that they would begin airing a game on the Friday afternoon following Thanksgiving beginning the 2011–12 NHL season; the game has since been branded as the Thanksgiving Showdown. The NHL has played games on American Thanksgiving, usually scheduling games involving Canadian teams and in Canada, as Thanksgiving is on a different day there, although none were scheduled in 2011.

The Turkey Trot
Turkey Trot
A Turkey Trot is a fun run or footrace, usually of the long-distance variety, that is held on or around Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Americans anticipate indulgent Thanksgiving feasts and run in turkey trots to burn off calories before the big meal....

 is a road running
Road running
Road running is the sport of running on a measured course over an established road . These events would be classified as long distance according to athletics terminology, with distances typically ranging from 5 kilometers to 42.2 kilometers in the marathon. They may involve large numbers of runners...

 event held in numerous cities on Thanksgiving morning. Depending on the organizations involved, these can range from one-mile fun run
Fun run
A fun run is a friendly race that involves either road running or cross country running with participants taking part for their own enjoyment rather than competition. A fun run will usually be held to raise funds for a charity, with sponsors providing the revenue to cover organisational costs...

s to full marathon
Marathon
The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres , that is usually run as a road race...

s (although only the Atlanta Marathon
Atlanta Marathon
The Atlanta Marathon is an annual marathon held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.The first running was in 1963 at the North Fulton Golf Course, making it the oldest in the Southeast. The following year, the Atlanta Track Club was formed, and has run the event every year since. In 1966, Tim Singleton...

 currently uses the latter). Most Turkey Trots range from between three
5000 metres
The 5000 metres is a popular running distance also known as 5 km or 5K in American English. It is one of the track events in the Olympic Games and the World Championships in Athletics. "5000 metres" refers to racing on a track and "5K" usually refers to a roadrace or cross country event...

 and ten miles.

Film



Occasionally, a Christmas-themed film will be released to theatres in the United States on or during the Thanksgiving holiday. Such was the case with the 1935 Scrooge
Scrooge (1935 film)
Scrooge is a 1935 British film directed by Henry Edwards featuring Seymour Hicks as Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser who hates Christmas. It was the first sound version of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, not counting a 1928 short subject that now appears to be lost.- Film :Hicks had...

, the 1951 film version of the Dickens classic
Scrooge (1951 film)
Scrooge, released as A Christmas Carol in the United States, is a 1951 film adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. It starred Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge and was directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, with a screenplay by Noel Langley.The film also features Kathleen Harrison in an...

,, and with two film versions of The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St...

-the 1986 film version
Nutcracker: The Motion Picture
Nutcracker: The Motion Picture , is a 1986 film produced by Pacific Northwest Ballet in associates with Hyperion Pictures and Kushner/Locke. It is a film adaptation of the ballet The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as well as based on the short story by E.T.A. Hoffmann...

  and the famous George Balanchine version of the ballet
The Nutcracker (Balanchine)
Choreographer George Balanchine's production of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker has become the most famous stage production of the ballet performed in the U.S. The Balanchine Nutcracker uses the plot of the Alexandre Dumas, père version of E.T.A...

, as well as the animated The Nutcracker Prince
The Nutcracker Prince
The Nutcracker Prince is a 1990 animated romantic fantasy film made by Lacewood Productions and released by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film was directed by Paul Schibli and based on the story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A...

.

Television and radio


While not as prolific as Christmas specials, which usually begin right after Thanksgiving, there are many special television programs transmitted on or around Thanksgiving. In some cases, Christmas films and specials begin to be telecast on Thanksgiving Day, since the day signals the beginning of the Christmas season in the U.S.

Daytime television is a popular time slot for several Thanksgiving specials. NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 currently carries the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, often shortened to Macy's Day Parade, is an annual parade presented by Macy's. The tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States along with America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, and four years younger than...

nationwide by official license from Macy's; NBC also carries the National Dog Show
National Dog Show
The National Dog Show Presented by Purina is a conformation show sanctioned by the American Kennel Club. The National Dog Show has been ongoing since 1843. The show is held by the AKC's Philadelphia, Pennsylvania division, the . It traditionally takes place on the antepenultimate weekend in...

, immediately after the Macy's Parade, followed by Miracle on 34th Street
Miracle on 34th Street
Miracle on 34th Street is a 1947 Christmas film written by George Seaton from a story by Valentine Davies, directed by George Seaton and starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn...

. CBS carries unofficial coverage of the Macy's parade and an NFL game
NFL on television
The television rights to broadcast National Football League games are the most lucrative and expensive rights of any American sport. It was television that brought professional football into prominence in the modern era after World War II...

; on odd-numbered years when CBS has the Dallas Cowboys game, the East Coast sees repeats of its daytime programs
CBS Daytime
CBS Daytime is a television programming block on CBS. It's the branding for the CBS Television Network's late morning and early afternoon programming. The block has historically encompassed soap operas, game shows, and talk shows...

 during the afternoons (on even-numbered when they have the Detroit Lions game, the West Coast programming is shuffled so that the extra time airs in late night hours). ABC has no daytime Thanksgiving specials; neither does FOX
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as Fox Network or simply Fox , is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Launched on October 9, 1986, Fox was the highest-rated broadcast network in the...

, although Fox also carries an NFL game. WGN America carries the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade
McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade
The McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade, "Chicago's Grand Holiday Tradition," is an annual parade produced and presented by the Chicago Festival Association . It is held on State Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, every Thanksgiving morning starting at 8 am CST...

and a special entitled Bozo, Gar and Ray: WGN TV Classics
Bozo, Gar and Ray: WGN TV Classics
Bozo, Gar and Ray: WGN TV Classics is a two-hour television special produced by WGN-TV in Chicago, Illinois. It debuted in 2005 and featured on both WGN-TV and its superstation simulcast, WGN America...

. Local television stations will occasionally preempt these programs in favor of local parades and events, while syndicators will offer Thanksgiving-themed episodes of sitcom reruns.

From 1992 to 1998, Fox Kids
Fox Kids
Fox Kids was the Fox Broadcasting Company's American children's programming division and brand name from September 8, 1990 until September 7, 2002. It was owned by Fox Television Entertainment airing programming on Monday–Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings.Depending on the show, the...

 would have a special programming block called "The Fox Kids T.V. Takeover", where they would show Fox Kids programming from noon until 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

In prime time
Prime time
Prime time or primetime is the block of broadcast programming during the middle of the evening for television programing.The term prime time is often defined in terms of a fixed time period—for example, from 19:00 to 22:00 or 20:00 to 23:00 Prime time or primetime is the block of broadcast...

, ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 currently airs A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is the tenth prime-time animated TV special based upon the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was originally aired on the CBS network on November 20, 1973, and won an Emmy Award the following year...

and "The Mayflower Voyagers" from This is America, Charlie Brown
This Is America, Charlie Brown
This is America, Charlie Brown was an eight-part animated TV mini-series, depicting events in American history with characters from the Charles M. Schulz comic strip Peanuts. It aired from 1988 to 1989 on CBS. These eight episodes, originally released singly on videocassette, were released in a...

; until 2005 and again since 2008, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving aired on Thanksgiving night (though in 2006 and 2007, the network moved this to the Monday before so that they could compete head-to-head with CBS, who airs regularly scheduled programming, in a ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

 war, as Thanksgiving lies within the November sweeps period). On Thanksgiving night, Fox usually carries a feature film; NBC's programming varies, including feature films, special episodes of NBC series, NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

 specials, or music specials. Additionally, some series have over time featured Thanksgiving-themed episodes and specials, including WKRP in Cincinnati
WKRP in Cincinnati
WKRP in Cincinnati is an American situation comedy that featured the misadventures of the staff of a struggling fictional radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. The show was created by Hugh Wilson and was based upon his experiences working in advertising sales at Top 40 radio station WQXI in Atlanta...

's famous episode "Turkeys Away". Music specials by popular artists are popular in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving itself.

Cable
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

 stations usually carry marathons
Marathon (television)
In television, a marathon is typically the sequential broadcast of a single or a number of related television programs, most notably reflecting a theme....

 of their popular shows on Thanksgiving Day. The 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The lyrics for the songs...

is often aired on Thanksgiving Day on Turner Broadcasting owned outlets (either TBS
TBS (TV channel)
TBS , stylized in the logo as tbs, is an American cable television channel owned by Time Warner that shows a variety of programming, with a focus on comedy. TBS was originally known as WTCG, a UHF terrestrial television station that broadcast from Atlanta, Georgia, during the late 1970s...

 or Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies is a movie-oriented cable television channel, owned by the Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary of Time Warner, featuring commercial-free classic movies, mostly from the Turner Entertainment and MGM, United Artists, RKO and Warner Bros. film libraries...

).

On the radio, the Friday before Thanksgiving has, in recent years, been the benchmark and standard date for adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music is a broad style of popular music that ranges from lush 1950s and 1960s vocal music to predominantly ballad-heavy music with varying degrees of rock influence, as well as a radio format that plays such music....

 stations to switch over to full-time Christmas music
Christmas music
Christmas music comprises a variety of genres of music normally performed or heard around the Christmas season, which tends to begin in the months leading up the actual holiday and end in the weeks shortly thereafter.-Early:...

. There are a few Thanksgiving-themed specials and songs for various formats; many classic rock
Classic rock
Classic rock is a radio format which developed from the album-oriented rock format in the early 1980s. In the United States, the classic rock format features music ranging generally from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, primarily focusing on the hard rock genre that peaked in popularity in the...

 stations, for example, have a tradition of playing Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Davy Guthrie is an American folk singer. Like his father, Woody Guthrie, Arlo often sings songs of protest against social injustice...

's 1967 song "Alice's Restaurant
Alice's Restaurant
"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is a musical monologue by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie released on his 1967 album Alice's Restaurant. The song is one of Guthrie's most prominent works, based on a true incident in his life that began on Thanksgiving Day 1965, and which inspired a 1969 movie of the...

" on Thanksgiving, as the song's lyrics are about an event that takes place on the holiday, while many other stations will air Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler
Adam Richard Sandler is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, musician, and film producer.After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over $100 million at the box office...

's "The Thanksgiving Song
The Thanksgiving Song
"The Thanksgiving Song" is a song performed by Adam Sandler discussing Thanksgiving.The song was written by Sandler, Ian Maxtone-Graham and Robert Smigel. It was first performed during the Weekend Update segment of the season 18 episode of Saturday Night Live on November 21, 1992...

." In talk radio
Talk radio
Talk radio is a radio format containing discussion about topical issues. Most shows are regularly hosted by a single individual, and often feature interviews with a number of different guests. Talk radio typically includes an element of listener participation, usually by broadcasting live...

, The Rush Limbaugh Show
The Rush Limbaugh Show
The Rush Limbaugh Show is an American talk radio show hosted by Rush Limbaugh on Premiere Radio Networks...

has a tradition known as "The Real Story of Thanksgiving," in which Limbaugh argues (based upon texts such as Of Plymouth Plantation
Of Plymouth Plantation
Written over a period of years by the leader of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation is the single most complete authority for the story of the Pilgrims and the early years of the Colony they founded...

) that the early Puritans were communalists
Communalism
Communalism is a term with three distinct meanings according to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary'.'These include "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation". "the principles and practice of communal ownership"...

 who, upon near starvation in the winter of 1621 with their system of common ownership of farm produce, switched to a free enterprise
Free enterprise
-Transport:* Free Enterprise I, a ferry in service with European Ferries between 1962 and 1980.* Free Enterprise II, a ferry in service with European Ferries between 1965 and 1982....

 system and prospered. Westwood One
NFL on Westwood One
The NFL on Westwood One is the brand name given to weekly National Football League games carried on the radio over the Dial Global Radio Network...

 carries all of the NFL Thanksgiving games, while the Sports USA Radio Network
Sports USA Radio Network
The Sports USA Radio Network is the largest independent nationwide sports broadcasting radio network, specializing in live broadcasts of American football, specifically of the NCAA football Division I-A and National Football League...

 and United Stations Radio Networks
United Stations Radio Networks
United Stations Radio Networks is a radio network providing a wide range of programs and programming services for radio stations across the US and elsewhere...

 carry several of the Friday rivalry games.

Controversy


Much like Columbus Day
Columbus Day
Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday...

, Thanksgiving is seen by some as a celebration of the conquest and genocide of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 by European colonists. Professor Dan Brook of University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 condemns the "cultural and political amnesia" of Americans that celebrate Thanksgiving, saying that "We do not have to feel guilty, but we do need to feel something." Professor Robert Jensen
Robert Jensen
Robert William Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin College of Communication. He joined the faculty in 1992 after completing his Ph.D. in media law and ethics in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota...

 of the University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

 is somewhat harsher, saying that "One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting."

Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England
United American Indians of New England
The United American Indians of New England is a Native American activist organization founded by Frank James. Also known as Wamsutta, Frank James was the leader of the Wampanoag people. He founded the United American Indians of New England after being “uninvited” to make a speech at a celebration...

, a protest group led by Frank "Wamsutta" James that has accused the United States and European settlers of fabricating the Thanksgiving story and whitewashing a supposed genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 and injustice against Indians, has led a National Day of Mourning protest on Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock is the traditional site of disembarkation of William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. It is an important symbol in American history...

 in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the name of social equality and in honor of political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s.

Another notable example of anti-Thanksgiving sentiment was when hundreds of supporters traveled to Alcatraz on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the Occupation of Alcatraz
Occupation of Alcatraz
The Occupation of Alcatraz was an occupation of Alcatraz Island by the group Indians of All Tribes . The Alcatraz Occupation lasted for nineteen months, from November 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971, and was forcibly ended by the U.S. government.-Background:...

 by Indians of All Tribes
Indians of All Tribes
Indians of All Tribes may refer to one of two organizations:*Indians of All Tribes, based out of San Francisco, and responsible for the Occupation of Alcatraz...

. The American Indian Movement
American Indian Movement
The American Indian Movement is a Native American activist organization in the United States, founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota by urban Native Americans. The national AIM agenda focuses on spirituality, leadership, and sovereignty...

 also holds a negative view of Thanksgiving and has used it as a platform of protest, most notably when they took over a Mayflower
Mayflower
The Mayflower was the ship that transported the English Separatists, better known as the Pilgrims, from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, , in 1620...

float in a Thanksgiving Day parade. Some Native Americans hold "Unthanksgiving Day
Unthanksgiving day
Unthanksgiving Day also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is an event held on the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, in the United States of America, to honor the indigenous peoples of the Americas and promote their rights. It coincides with a similar protest, the National...

" celebrations in which they mourn the deaths of their ancestors, fast, dance, and pray. This tradition has been taking place since 1975.

However, the perception of Thanksgiving among Native Americans is not universally negative. Tim Giago
Tim Giago
Tim Giago, also known as Nanwica Kciji , is an American Oglala Lakota journalist and publisher. In 1981, he founded the Lakota Times at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where he was born and grew up. It was the first independently owned Native American newspaper in the United States. In 1991...

, founder of the Native American Journalists Organization, seeks to reconcile Thanksgiving with Native American traditions. He compares Thanksgiving to "wopila," a thanks-giving celebration practiced by Native Americans of the Great Plains. He writes in The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post is an American news website and content-aggregating blog founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti, featuring liberal minded columnists and various news sources. The site offers coverage of politics, theology, media, business, entertainment, living, style,...

that "the idea of a day of Thanksgiving has been a part of the Native American landscape for centuries. The fact that it is also a national holiday for all Americans blends in perfectly with Native American traditions." He also shares personal anecdotes of Native American families coming together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Members of the Oneida Indian Nation
Oneida Indian Nation
The Oneida Indian Nation is the Oneida tribe that resides in New York and currently owns a number of businesses and tribal land in Verona, NY, Oneida, NY, and Canastota, NY.- Businesses :...

 marched in the 2010 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, often shortened to Macy's Day Parade, is an annual parade presented by Macy's. The tradition started in 1924, tying it for the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States along with America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, and four years younger than...

 with a float called "The True Spirit of Thanksgiving."

Date


Since being fixed at the fourth Thursday in November by law in 1941, the holiday in the United States can occur on any date from November 22 to November 28. When it falls on November 22 or 23, it is not the last Thursday, but the penultimate Thursday in November. As it is a Federal holiday
Federal holiday
In the United States, a federal holiday is a public holiday recognized by the United States federal government. Non-essential federal government offices are closed...

, all United States government offices are closed and employees are paid for that day. It is also a holiday for the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

 and most other financial markets and financial services companies.

Thanksgiving dates, 2011–2021

  • November 24, 2011
  • November 22, 2012
  • November 28, 2013
  • November 27, 2014
  • November 26, 2015
  • November 24, 2016
  • November 23, 2017
  • November 22, 2018
  • November 28, 2019
  • November 26, 2020
  • November 25, 2021

Day after Thanksgiving


The day after Thanksgiving is a day off for some companies and many schools. It is popularly known as Black Friday
Black Friday (shopping)
Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 a.m., or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season, similar to Boxing...

, because of the heavy shopping that day helps put retailers' books back into black. Black Friday has been considered by retailers to be the start of the Christmas shopping season since as early as the 1930s.

Poetry

  • "Thanksgiving", by Florence Earle Coates
    Florence Earle Coates
    -Biography:She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Granddaughter of noted abolitionist and philanthropist Thomas Earle, and eldest daughter of Philadelphia lawyer George H. Earle, Sr. and Mrs. Frances Van Leer Earle, Mrs...

  • "Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1986", by William S. Burroughs
    William S. Burroughs
    William Seward Burroughs II was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th...

     in Tornado Alley
    Tornado Alley (book)
    Tornado Alley is a collection of short stories and one poem by Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs, written during the later years of his career and first published in 1989. The first edition of the book included illustrations by S. Clay Wilson....


Music

  • "Thankgiving Day", a song by Ray Davies
    Ray Davies
    Ray Davies, CBE is an English rock musician. He is best known as lead singer and songwriter for the Kinks, which he led with his younger brother, Dave...

     on his 2006 album Other People's Lives
    Other People's Lives
    Other People's Lives is an album by Kinks' leader and chief songwriter Ray Davies. It reached the top 40 in the UK charts in February 2006, and 122 in the USA top 200...


Further reading

An hour-long history public radio program examining the roots of America's Thanksgiving rituals Free audio readings of Thanksgiving proclamations by William Bradford, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln Historical perspective from the Pokanoket
Pokanoket
The Pokanoket tribe is the headship tribe of the many tribes that make up the Wampanoag Nation, which was at times referred to as the Pokanoket Nation or the Pokanoket Confederacy or known as the Pokanoket Country...

Tribe

External links