When is Thanksgiving day?

Fourth Thursday of November. In the US, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, it falls on Thursday, November 28.

There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas, in 1598. Another early event was held in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration the Pilgrims held in Plymouth.

President Abraham Lincoln was the first US president to officially declare the festival as the last Thursday in November. There isn't clear historical information on the actual date of the first Thanksgiving. President Lincoln assigned the holiday to fall on the last Thursday in November, possibly to coincide with the date the Pilgrims first landed the Mayflower in New England. according to Town and Country.

When is Thanksgiving Day and why is it celebrated?
Photo: Townandcountry

The date was set in stone by President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1939. Roosevelt hoped that a lengthened holiday shopping season would increase spending and alleviate the crippling Depression. This resulted in two consecutive years of conflicting Thanksgiving Day celebrations, as some states refused to recognize the change. Then it was approved by Congress in 1941.

International celebration. Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Canada, Grenada, the Philippines, Saint Lucia, Liberia and the Netherlands.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.

Black Friday. Friday after Thanksgiving kickstarts the Christmas shopping season with promotional sales.

The day after Thanksgiving was called “Black Friday” in a 1951 journal referring to workers calling in sick in order to have a four-day Thanksgiving weekend.

Why is it celebrated?

Blessing of the harvest. It began as a day where people took the opportunity of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.

In the US, the celebration is often recognised as an event that took place when English colonists held a feast to thank Native Americans for helping them start new lives in the US.

“The First Thanksgiving” was celebrated after their first harvest in October 1621. The feast lasted three days.

Five letters to five US presidents

When is Thanksgiving Day and why is it celebrated?
Sarah Josepha Hale is believed to make Thanksgiving a national holiday (Photo: Time Magazine)

After a long campaign, Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady Book – a colonial women’s magazine – is credited with making Thanksgiving a national holiday in the US.

In support of the proposed national holiday, Hale wrote letters to five presidents of the US. The letter she wrote to Lincoln convinced him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of thanksgiving in 1863.

“You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution,” she wrote.

Before Thanksgiving Day, the only national holidays celebrated in the US were George Washington’s Birthday and Independence Day.

National day of Mourning.From the perspective of many Native Americans, the holiday symbolises centuries of land seizure and the erosion of tribal cultures.

The United American Indians of New England protest group accuses the US and European settlers of fabricating the Thanksgiving story, and, since 1970, the group has organised a National Day of Mourning protest on the day.

The way people celebrate Thanksgiving

Most government offices, businesses, schools, universities, colleges, and other organizations are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Many offices and businesses allow staff to have a long four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, so these offices and businesses are also closed on the Day after Thanksgiving Day. Public transit systems usually do not operate on their regular timetables.

Thanksgiving Day is one of the busiest periods for travel in the USA. This can cause congestion and overcrowding. Seasonal parades and busy football games can also cause disruption to local traffic.

Thanksgiving Day is a day for people in the US to give thanks for what they have. Families and friends get together for a meal, which traditionally includes a roast turkey, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, gravy, and pumpkin pie.

When is Thanksgiving Day and why is it celebrated?
Photo: The Spruce Eats

In some cities and towns, there are parades during the Thanksgiving weekend. In most areas, these festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season.

Why is it celebrated with turkey?

Hamilton’s turkey. Eating turkey for Thanksgiving in the US precedes Lincoln’s nationalisation of the holiday in 1863. In the 19th century, founding father Alexander Hamilton proclaimed that no “Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”

Some give credit to Hale, whose accounts emphasised a roast turkey and eventually became the model for the festivities.

Others believe the birds were chosen because they are large enough to feed many people, and they don’t serve a purpose like laying eggs or making milk.

More than 50 million turkeys are served in the US every year for Thanksgiving.

Pardon tradition. Dating back to at least 1947, US presidents were gifted with turkeys at Thanksgiving. These turkeys were usually eaten.

Ronald Reagan was the first president to “pardon” a turkey, in 1987. His successor, George HW Bush, made the pardoning ceremony into a White House tradition from 1989 onwards, according to Aljazeera.

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