Thanksgiving in the USA is one of the most popular holidays for families to celebrate together. The big highlight of the day is at dinner – when Americans enjoy a large feast of traditional Thanksgiving foods. While many Americans use this day as a time to reflect on all of the things in their lives to be grateful for, others use this day as a time of action to serve others in their communities.
Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the “holiday season” in the USA, which lasts until New Year’s Day. And the day after Thanksgiving, known as “Black Friday,” is one of the busiest shopping days of the year!
Thanksgiving occurs on the fourth Thursday of November and is an official federal holiday, which means almost all government offices, schools, and many businesses will be closed.
History of Thanksgiving
Throughout the world, many countries celebrate a “harvest festival” that is unique to their culture and history. Thanksgiving serves as Americans’ harvest festival and can be traced all the way back to 1621. Around this time, immigrants from England began to colonize the present-day USA. While initially faced with cold, famine, and other hardship, they had their first successful harvest in 1621 with the help of local indigenous Americans, and as the legend goes, they celebrated their thankfulness with a feast.
This story is known as the “first Thanksgiving,” but it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official national holiday.
The turkey is the unofficial symbol of Thanksgiving, since it is one of the items that was likely on the first Thanksgiving’s menu. As a funny way to acknowledge this, the U.S. President “pardons” a turkey every year and “saves” it from being cooked.
Traveling during Thanksgiving is very popular as many Americans will be visiting loved ones for the holiday, so we recommend the following tips if you plan on traveling to or in the USA during this time:
- Plan ahead and arrive early.
- Stay connected with useful travel apps.
- Be ready for the unexpected.
- Pack smart and keep important items with you at all times.
- Relax and do your best to be flexible.
For Americans staying home, many will be attending a local parade or watching the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Many Americans also watch Thanksgiving football games. The biggest Thanksgiving tradition is dinnertime, when Americans popularly eat foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie!
And in keeping with the American value of volunteerism, many organizations serve Thanksgiving dinners to families who may not be able to afford it. Millions of frozen turkeys are also donated at this time, to make Thanksgiving a special day for as many people as possible. Every year, the Spirit office joins in the Thanksgiving tradition of volunteering by spending an afternoon at Beyond Hunger, a non-profit organization right in our local community! If you would like to volunteer your time this Thanksgiving, visit VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities near you.