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Thanksgiving (United States)
Thanksgiving (United States)
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, oil on canvas, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, 1914
Observed by United States
Celebrations Giving thanks, prayer, feasting, spending time with family, religious services, football games, parades
Date Fourth Thursday in November
2021 date November 25
2022 date November 24
2023 date November 23
2024 date November 28
Related to Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving in the UK
Thanksgiving in Canada
Thanksgiving in Norfolk Island
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Thanksgiving in Saint Lucia
, oil on canvas by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, 1925 National Museum of Women in the ArtsThanksgiving is a federal holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It is sometimes called American Thanksgiving (outside the United States) to distinguish it from the Canadian holiday of the same name and related celebrations in other regions. It originated as a day of thanksgiving and harvest festival, with the theme of the holiday revolving around giving thanks and the centerpiece of Thanksgiving celebrations remaining a Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner traditionally consists of foods and dishes indigenous to the Americas, namely turkey, potatoes (usually mashed or sweet), stuffing, squash, corn (maize), green beans, cranberries (typically in sauce form), and pumpkin pie. Other Thanksgiving customs include charitable organizations offering Thanksgiving dinner for the poor, attending religious services, watching parades, and viewing football games. In American culture Thanksgiving is regarded as the beginning of the fall–winter holiday season, which includes Christmas and the New Year.
New England and Virginia colonists originally celebrated days of fasting, as well as days of thanksgiving, thanking God for blessings such as harvests, ship landings, military victories, or the end of a drought. These were observed through church services, accompanied with feasts and other communal gatherings. The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days and was attended by 90 Wampanoag Native American people and 53 Pilgrims (survivors of the Mayflower). Less widely known is an earlier Thanksgiving celebration in Virginia in 1619 by English settlers who had just landed at Berkeley Hundred aboard the ship .
Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by President George Washington after a request by Congress. President Thomas Jefferson chose not to observe the holiday, and its celebration was intermittent until President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens", calling on the American people to also, "with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience .. fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation...". Lincoln declared it for the last Thursday in November. On June 28, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the that made Thanksgiving a yearly appointed federal holiday in Washington D.C. On January 6, 1885, an act by Congress made Thanksgiving, and other federal holidays, a paid holiday for all federal workers throughout the United States. Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the date was moved to one week earlier, observed between 1939 and 1941 amid significant controversy. From 1942 onwards, Thanksgiving, by an act of Congress received a permanent observation date, the fourth Thursday in November, no longer at the discretion of the President.
1.1 Early thanksgiving observances
1.2 Harvest festival observed by the Pilgrims at Plymouth
1.3 Debate over the first Thanksgiving
1.4 The Revolutionary War
1.5 Thanksgiving proclamations in the early Republic
1.6 Lincoln and the Civil War
1.7 Post-Civil War era
1.8 1939 to 1941 1.9 1942 to present
2 Traditional celebrations and solemnities
2.2 Foods of the season
2.3 Giving thanks
2.4 Penitence and prayer
2.5 Parades 2.6 Sports
2.6.1 American football
2.6.2 Other sports 2.7 Television 2.8 Radio
2.9 Turkey pardoning
2.10 Vacation and travel
3 Criticism and controversy
4 Alternative celebrations
4.1 National Day of Mourning
4.2 Vegan Thanksgiving
4.3 Danksgiving 5 Date
5.1 Table of dates (1946–2057)
5.2 Days after Thanksgiving
6 Literature 6.1 Poetry 7 Music 8 References 8.1 Bibliography 9 Further reading
Thanksgiving Day, annual national holiday in the United States and Canada celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Americans generally believe that their Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. The American holiday is particularly rich in legend and symbolism, and the traditional fare of the Thanksgiving meal typically includes turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. With respect to vehicular travel, the holiday is often the busiest of the year, as family members gather with one another. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on
By David J. Silverman Last Updated: Nov 20, 2022 Edit History
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe: Thanksgiving at Plymouth
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Read a brief summary of this topicThanksgiving Day, annual national holiday in the United States and Canada celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Americans generally believe that their Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. The American holiday is particularly rich in legend and symbolism, and the traditional fare of the Thanksgiving meal typically includes turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. With respect to vehicular travel, the holiday is often the busiest of the year, as family members gather with one another. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on Thursday, November 24, 2022.
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Plymouth’s Thanksgiving began with a few colonists going out “fowling,” possibly for turkeys but more probably for the easier prey of geese and ducks, since they “in one day killed as much as…served the company almost a week.” Next, 90 or so Wampanoag made a surprise appearance at the settlement’s gate, doubtlessly unnerving the 50 or so colonists. Nevertheless, over the next few days the two groups socialized without incident. The Wampanoag contributed venison to the feast, which included the fowl and probably fish, eels, shellfish, stews, vegetables, and beer. Since Plymouth had few buildings and manufactured goods, most people ate outside while sitting on the ground or on barrels with plates on their laps. The men fired guns, ran races, and drank liquor, struggling to speak in broken English and Wampanoag. This was a rather disorderly affair, but it sealed a treaty between the two groups that lasted until King Philip’s War (1675–76), in which hundreds of colonists and thousands of Native Americans lost their lives.
Thanksgiving History Quiz
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The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “Thanksgivings,” days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought. The U.S. Continental Congress proclaimed a national Thanksgiving upon the enactment of the Constitution, for example. Yet, after 1798, the new U.S. Congress left Thanksgiving declarations to the states; some objected to the national government’s involvement in a religious observance, Southerners were slow to adopt a New England custom, and others took offense over the day’s being used to hold partisan speeches and parades. A national Thanksgiving Day seemed more like a lightning rod for controversy than a unifying force.
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Thanksgiving Day did not become an official holiday until Northerners dominated the federal government. While sectional tensions prevailed in the mid-19th century, the editor of the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, Sarah Josepha Hale, campaigned for a national Thanksgiving Day to promote unity. She finally won the support of President Abraham Lincoln. On October 3, 1863, during the Civil War, Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.
The holiday was annually proclaimed by every president thereafter, and the date chosen, with few exceptions, was the last Thursday in November. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, however, attempted to extend the Christmas shopping season, which generally begins with the Thanksgiving holiday, and to boost the economy by moving the date back a week, to the third week in November. But not all states complied, and, after a joint resolution of Congress in 1941, Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1942 designating the fourth Thursday in November (which is not always the last Thursday) as Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2022 occurs on Thursday, November 24. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.
HISTORY.COM EDITORSUPDATED:NOV 15, 2022ORIGINAL:OCT 27, 2009
Thanksgiving at Plymouth
Thanksgiving Becomes a National Holiday
Thanksgiving Traditions and Rituals
Thanksgiving's Ancient Origins
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2022 occurs on Thursday, November 24. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.WATCH: Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower on HISTORY Vault
Thanksgiving at Plymouth
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the "New World." After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
Did you know? Lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims' menu.READ MORE: What's the Difference Between Puritans and Pilgrims?
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from a member of the Abenaki tribe who greeted them in English.
Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which endured for more than 50 years and remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the first Thanksgiving’s exact menu, much of what we know about what happened at the first Thanksgiving comes from Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow, who wrote:
“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 labors; 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 amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they 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."
Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrationsREAD MORE: Who Was at the First Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving Becomes a National Holiday
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Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well.