Thanksgiving Day Date in the current year: November 28, 2024

Thanksgiving Day Thanksgiving Day is one of the most important holidays in the United States. It was established as a federal holiday in 1863 and has been celebrated every year since then. Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November.

The history of Thanksgiving is typically associated with Plymouth Colony, also known as New Plymouth, which was founded by the English immigrants who arrived aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Their first winter in the New World was very harsh, and nearly half the settlers died of cold, hunger, and diseases. However, the pilgrims did manage to develop the colony, grow crops, and prepare for their next winter in the New World. In November 1621, they celebrated a harvest feast which is now referred to as “The First Thanksgiving”.

The 52 surviving pilgrims invited 90 Native Americans as guests to show their gratitude as they had taught the pilgrims how to grow corn and catch eel as well as had shared their food during the harsh winter. The celebration which was first referred to as Thanksgiving was held in 1623, following a fast, and a refreshing two-week rain which resulted in a large harvest after the nearly catastrophic drought.

The Continental Congress first proclaimed Thanksgiving Day in 1777, during the American Revolutionary War, as a victory celebration honoring the decisive American victory in the Battles of Saratoga. However, Thanksgiving Day didn’t become an annual celebration until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November. In 1941, the date was moved to the fourth Thursday in November by a federal bill that was signed by President Franklin D. Roosewelt.

The present-day Thanksgiving is first and foremost a family holiday, and not a harvest festival like it used to be. For many people, it is the only day of the year when all members of an extended family, living in different cities and sometimes even in different states, can reunite and spend some quality time together. The best known holiday tradition is Thanksgiving dinner that includes foods native to the New World.

Roasted or baked turkey is usually the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table. Even vegetarians and vegans often cook a substitute called tofurkey to honor the tradition. Other foods traditionally served on this day include cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, fried veggies, sweet corn, green bean casserole, and various pies (most notably pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pecan pie). Many families begin the Thanksgiving meal by saying grace.

Events held on Thanksgiving Day include holiday parades (the largest and most famous being the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City), Thanksgiving Day football games, television specials. Shortly before the holiday, the ceremony of National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation takes place at the White House, where the President of the United States is presented with a live domestic turkey. Since 1989, it has been an annual tradition for the president to “pardon” the turkey instead of eating it.

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