Thanksgiving (United States)

Thanksgiving (United States)

Infobox Holiday
holiday_name=United States Thanksgiving

caption="The First Thanksgiving", painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930)
date= fourth Thursday in November
celebrations=parades, spending time with family, football games, eating large meals
dateCURRENTYEAR=November weekday in month|fourth|thursday|november|CURRENTYEAR, CURRENTYEAR

In the United States, Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day is an annual one-day legal holiday to express gratitude for the things one has at the end of the harvest season. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. The period from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Day is often collectively referred to as the "holiday season"."Thanksgiving is generally considered a secular holiday, and is not directly based in religious canon or dogma. The holiday's origins trace to harvest festivals that have been celebrated in many cultures since ancient times, and most people celebrate by gathering at home with family or friends for a holiday feast. A tradition also exists to share the fruits of the harvest with those who are less fortunate.



The first recorded Thanksgiving ceremony was on September 8, 1565 in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida. Six hundred Spaniard settlers under the leadership of Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed at what would become the city and immediately held a Mass of Thanksgiving for their safe delivery to the New World, followed by a feast and celebration. As the La Florida colony did become part of the United States, this can be classified as the First Thanksgiving. [ [ USA Today article reporting research into the purportedly first Thanksgiving in St. Augustine, FL ] ]

The city of El Paso, Texas has also been said to be the site of the first Thanksgiving to be held in what is now known as the United States, though theirs was not a harvest festival. Spaniard Don Juan de Oñate ordered his expedition party to rest and conducted a mass in celebration of thanksgiving on April 30, 1598. [cite book | title = El Paso Chronicles: A Record of Historical Events in El Paso, Texas | author = Leon C. Metz | year = 1993 | publisher = El Paso: Mangan Press | isbn = 0-930208-32-3 ]

1619 Thanksgiving, The Virginia Colony

On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred which comprised about eight thousand acres (32 km²) on the north bank of the James River near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie (sic) about convert|20|mi upstream from Jamestown, 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 Woodleaf 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 keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."Fact|date=December 2007

During the Indian Massacre of 1622, caused by an unprovoked assassination of an important Indian leader, nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundred 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, and was long the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia. In 1634, it became part of the first eight shires of Virginia, as Charles City County, one of the oldest in the United States, and is located along Virginia State Route 5, which runs parallel to the river's northern borders past sites of many of the James River Plantations between the colonial capital city of Williamsburg (now the site of Colonial Williamsburg) and the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia at Richmond.

Berkeley Plantation continues to be the site of an annual Thanksgiving event to this day. President George W. Bush gave his official Thanksgiving address in 2007 at Berkeley saying:

cquote|In the four centuries since the founders of Berkeley first knelt on these grounds, our nation has changed in many ways. Our people have prospered, our nation has grown, our Thanksgiving traditions have evolved -- after all, they didn't have football back then. Yet the source of all our blessings remains the same: We give thanks to the Author of Life who granted our forefathers safe passage to this land, who gives every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth the gift of freedom, and who watches over our nation every day.]

1621 Thanksgiving, The Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation

Squanto, 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 as a slave in Europe and travels in England). Without Squanto's help the Pilgrims might not have survived in the New World.Fact|date=August 2007 Although, there is still controversy about what kind of relationship Native Americans and Europeans might truly have had, had not the smallpox plague which killed 90-96% of the local Native American population just prior to the actual arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 that happened. James W. Loewen, in "Lies My Teacher Told Me"The settlers who later came to be called 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 were existing parts of English and Wampanoag tradition alike. Several American colonists have personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts:

William Bradford, in "Of Plymouth Plantation:

Edward Winslow, in "Mourt's Relation":

The mention of Massasoit's ninety men in the Winslow account is of interest, as the Indians present, not mentioned in most accounts, would have greatly outnumbered the fifty surviving Englishmen. The two preceding passages are the only records of the event, but historians presume that both groups were exposed to unfamiliar forms of celebration. What is clear is that Massasoit's people had no interest in aggression, but rather sought to prosper the newcomers.The Pilgrims did not hold a true Thanksgiving until 1623, when it followed a drought, prayers for rain, and a subsequent rain shower. Irregular Thanksgivings continued after favorable events and days of fasting after unfavorable ones. In the Plymouth tradition, a thanksgiving day was a church observance, rather than a feast day.

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.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony (consisting mainly of Puritan 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 appointed a day for giving thanks in 1644 and occasionally thereafter.

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

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.
Later in the 1700s 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 at Saratoga.

The Revolutionary War to nationhood

During the American Revolutionary War 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:

cquote|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, 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

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:cquote|Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.cite web
title=1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington
publisher=Library of Congress
work=George Washington Papers at Library of Congress
accessdate = 2008-01-26

George Washington again proclaimed a Thanksgiving in 1795.

President John Adams declared Thanksgivings in 1798 and 1799. No Thanksgiving proclamations were issued by Thomas Jefferson but James Madison 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 were celebrated in autumn. In 1816, Governor Plamer 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." [Zanesville Express, October 31, 1816.] ]

A thanksgiving day was annually appointed by the governor of New York from 1817. In some of the Southern 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, President Abraham Lincoln, prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale,] proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863:

cquote|The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."

"Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln", 3 October, 1863.

Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.

1939 to 1940

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 declared that Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday of November rather than the last. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought this would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would aid bringing the country out of the Depression.

At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. However, since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, 23 states went along with Roosevelt's recommendation, and 22 did not. Other states, like Texas, could not decide and took both weeks as government holidays. Roosevelt persisted in 1940 to celebrate his "Franksgiving," as it was termed.

1941 to present

The U.S. Congress in 1941 split the difference and passed a bill 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 of that year President Roosevelt signed this bill, for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law. See 55 Stat. 862 (1941).

Since 1947, or possibly earlier, the National Turkey Federation 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. The live turkey is pardoned and lives out the rest of its days on a peaceful farm. While it is commonly held that this pardoning tradition began with Harry Truman in 1947, the Truman Library has been unable to find any evidence for this. The earliest on record is with George H. W. Bush in 1989. [ [ Presidential Turkey Pardon] ,] Still others claim that the tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son's pet turkey. [cite web|author= Cynthia Edwards|title = Did Truman pardon a Turkey?|work = Truman Trivia|publisher = Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library|date=2003-12-05|url =|accessdate = 2006-09-20] Both stories have been quoted in more recent presidential speeches.

In more recent years, two turkeys have been pardoned, in case the original turkey becomes unavailable for presidential pardoning. Since 2003 the public has been invited to vote for the two turkeys' names. They were named Stars and Stripes in 2003 and 2004's turkeys were called Biscuit and Gravy. In 2005 the public decided on Marshmallow and Yam, in 2006 on Flyer and Fryer, and in 2007 on May and Flower. [ [;_ylt=AnOxiMRw2G3JoGzdkmXi5YVh24cA] ] Since 2005, the two turkeys have been flown first class on United Airlines from Washington, D.C. to the Los Angeles area where they become the Grand Marshals of Disneyland's annual Thanksgiving Day parade down Main Street. The two turkeys then live out the rest of their relatively short lives in Disneyland's Frontierland ranch. [cite web|title = Pardon me – do you know the way to first class?|publisher=OC Register|url =|accessdate = 2006-11-26]

Since 1970, a group of Native Americans and other assorted protesters (mostly of progressive political persuasion) have held a National Day of Mourning protest on Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the name of social equality and in honor of political prisoners.

Traditional celebrations

Foods of the season

U.S. tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This element continues in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner, often featuring turkey, playing a large role in the celebration of Thanksgiving. Some of the details of the American Thanksgiving story are myths that developed in the 1890s and early 1900s as part of the effort to forge a common national identity in the aftermath of the Civil War and in the melting pot of new immigrants.

In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. First and foremost, turkey is usually the featured item on any Thanksgiving feast table (so much so that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as "Turkey Day"). Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn (maize), other fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. All of these primary dishes are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived.

To feed the needy 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 observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose. Historic reasons for community thanksgivings include the 1541 thanksgiving mass after the expedition of Coronado safely crossing part of Texas and finding game [] the 1610 Jamestown thanksgiving after the arrival of supply ships] [ [ Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541 - 2001 ] ] , and the 1777 thanksgiving after the victory in the revolutionary battle of Saratoga [ [ Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541 - 2001 ] ] . 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." [ [ Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1789 ] ] The only presidents to inject a specifically Christian focus to their proclamation have been Grover Cleveland in 1896, [ [ Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1890 ] ] and William McKinley in 1900. [ [ Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1900 ] ] Several other presidents have cited the Judeo-Christian tradition. Gerald Ford's 1975 declaration made no clear reference to any divinity. [ [ Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1970 ] ]

The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in various forms. Religious and spiritual organizations offer services and events on Thanksgiving themes the week-end before, the day of, or the week-end after Thanksgiving. Bishop Ryan observed about Thanksgiving Day, "It is the only day we have that consistently finds Catholics at Mass in extraordinary numbers...even though it is not a holy day of obligation. [ [ Thanksgiving is a Holy Day? ] ] ."

In celebrations at home, it is a holiday tradition in many families to begin the Thanksgiving dinner by saying grace [] . Found in diverse religious traditions, grace is a prayer before or after a meal to express appreciation to God, to ask for God’s blessing, or in some philosophies, to express an altruistic wish or dedication. The custom is portrayed in the photograph “Family Holding Hands and Praying Before a Thanksgiving Meal.” The grace may be led by the hostess or host, as has been traditional, or, in contemporary fashion, each person may contribute words of blessing or thanks [ [ Giving Thanks and Saying Grace ] ] . According to a 1998 Gallup poll, an estimated 64 percent of Americans say grace [ [ AMAZING GRACE / No matter what's on the plate, giving thanks is universal ] ] .

Vacation and travel

On Thanksgiving Day, families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner, the result being that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. In the United States, Thanksgiving is a four-day or five-day weekend vacation in school and college calendars. Most business and government workers (78% in 2007) are also given both Thanksgiving and the day after as paid holidays [ [ BNA - Thanksgiving Holiday Leave Reaches New High;Turkey Stages a Comeback as Employer Holiday Gift ] ] . Thanksgiving Eve, on the Wednesday night before, has been one of the busiest nights of the year for bars and clubs, both in terms of sales and volume of patrons, as many students have returned to their hometowns from college.


In New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (often erroneously referred to as the "Macy's Day Parade") is held annually every Thanksgiving Day from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Macy's flagship store in Herald Square. The parade features parade floats 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 float. This float is a sign that the Christmas season has begun. Thanksgiving parades also occur in many cities such as the 6abc Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia (which claims the oldest parade), the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago (carried by WGN-TV and WGN America), the "America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade" in Plymouth (covered by WHDH-TV), the "H-E-B Holiday Parade" in Houston (televised by KHOU-TV), the "America's Thanksgiving Parade" in Detroit (where it is the only major parade of the year, televised on WDIV-TV), the "Ameren St. Louis Thanksgiving Parade" (aired on KMOV) and the "Fountain Hills Thanksgiving Parade", among various other cities. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania holds the Macy's-sponsored Celebrate the Season Parade on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, co-sponsored and televised by WPXI. Within the New York metropolitan area, the city of Stamford, Connecticut holds an alternative parade called the "UBS Parade Spectacular" (with different character balloons from the Macy's parade) the Sunday before Thanksgiving that has attracted over 250,000 people in recent years.

Several other parades have a loose association with Thanksgiving, thanks to CBS'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 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the "Opryland Aqua Parade" (held from 1996 to 2001 by the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville); the Opryland parade was discontinued replaced by a taped parade in Miami Beach, Florida in 2002. A Disneyland parade was also featured on CBS until Disney purchased rival ABC.


The American winter holiday season (generally the Christmas shopping season in the U.S.) traditionally begins the day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday", although most stores actually start to stock for and promote the December holidays immediately after Halloween, and sometimes even before. Opponents of consumerism in some places protest this behavior by declaring the day after Thanksgiving Buy Nothing Day.


American football is often a major part of Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Professional games are traditionally played on Thanksgiving Day; until recently, these were the only games played during the week apart from Sunday or Monday night. The National Football League has played games on Thanksgiving every year since its creation; the tradition is referred to as the Thanksgiving Classic. The Detroit Lions have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1934, with the exception of 1939–1944 (due to World War II). The Dallas Cowboys have hosted every Thanksgiving Day since 1966, with the exception of 1975 and 1977 when the then-St. Louis Cardinals hosted (the Cowboys and Cardinals faced each other, in Dallas, in 1976). The American Football League also had a Thanksgiving Classic since its founding in 1960, with its 8 founding teams rotating one game each year (two games after the AFL-NFL merger).

For many college football 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 either on Friday or Saturday immediately after Thanksgiving, but usually a single college game is played on Thanksgiving itself. The most well known Thanksgiving holiday weekend games include:

* Ole Miss Rebels vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (the Egg Bowl)
* BYU Cougars vs. Utah Utes (the Holy War)
* LSU Tigers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (the Battle for the Golden Boot)
* Georgia Bulldogs vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate)
* Colorado Buffaloes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
* Texas Longhorns vs. Texas A&M Aggies (the Lone Star Showdown)
* Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles (the Sunshine Showdown)
* Pittsburgh Panthers vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (the Backyard Brawl)
* Grambling State University Tigers vs. Southern University Jaguars (the Bayou Classic)
* Alabama State University vs. Tuskegee University (the Turkey Day Classic)
* Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. USC Trojans (The Notre Dame-USC rivalry game has taken place in almost every season since 1926, with the home team alternating from year to year. When USC hosts, the game takes place on Thanksgiving weekend; when Notre Dame hosts, the game typically occurs sometime in October.)

Television and radio

While not as prolific as Christmas specials, which usually begin right after Thanksgiving, there are many special programs that air on or around Thanksgiving.

Most special programming airs during daytime on Thanksgiving. NBC currently carries the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" nationwide by official license from Macy's. NBC also carries the National Dog Show immediately after the Macy's Parade, followed by "Miracle on 34th Street". CBS carries unofficial coverage of the Macy's parade and an NFL game; in order to compensate for time zone differences, CBS will not carry new episodes of their daytime programs and will instead air reruns of "The Price Is Right" or soap operas under the name "Soap Classics" when not carrying an NFL game. ABC has no daytime Thanksgiving specials; neither does FOX, although Fox also carries an NFL game. In syndication, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" carries its annual Oprah's Favorite Things some time around Thanksgiving, while syndicators will air Thanksgiving-themed episodes of sitcom reruns. WGN America carries the "McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade" and a special entitled "". Local television stations will occasionally preempt these programs in favor of local parades and events.

In prime time, ABC currently airs "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" a few days before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving night, Fox usually carries a feature film and ABC and CBS currently carry regularly scheduled programming. NBC's programming varies each year.

Cable stations usually carry marathons of their popular shows on Thanksgiving day.

On the radio, the Friday before Thanksgiving has, in recent years, been the benchmark and standard date for adult contemporary music stations to switch over to full-time Christmas music. There are a few Thanksgiving themed specials for various formats. In talk radio; "The Rush Limbaugh Show" has a tradition known as "The Real Story of Thanksgiving," in which he argues (based upon texts such as Of Plymouth Plantation) that the early Pilgrims were proto-Communists who, upon near starvation in the winter of 1621, switched to a free enterprise system and prospered. Westwood One carries all of the NFL Thanksgiving games, while the Sports USA Radio Network carries several of the Friday rivalry games. There is, somewhat surprisingly, no radio coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Since being fixed at the fourth Thursday in November by law in 1941, the holiday in the United States can occur as early as November 22 to as late as November 28. As it is a Federal holiday, 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, and also for most other financial markets and financial services companies.

Future Thanksgiving dates 2008-2014

*Thursday, November 27, 2008
*Thursday, November 26, 2009
*Thursday, November 25, 2010
*Thursday, November 24, 2011
*Thursday, November 22, 2012
*Thursday, November 28, 2013
*Thursday, November 27, 2014

Friday after Thanksgiving

The Friday after Thanksgiving, although not a Federal holiday, is often a company holiday for many in the U.S. workforce, except for those in retail. It is also a day off for most schools. The Friday after Thanksgiving, colloquially known as Black Friday, is usually the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Advent (Christmas) season

The secular Thanksgiving holiday also coincides with the start of the four week Advent season before Christmas in the Western Christian church calendars. Advent starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day on December 25; in other words, the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive.

ee also

* Alice's Restaurant
* List of Harvest Festivals
* Thanksgiving (Canada)
* Turkey Trot


External links

* [ Thanksgiving Proclaimations over the years by US Presidents]
* cite news
title=The first Thanksgiving
author=Elizabeth Armstrong
work=Christian Science Monitor

* cite web
work=Encyclopaedia Britannica

* cite web
title=Don Juan de Oñate and the First Thanksgiving
author=Don Adams and Teresa A. Kendrick
publisher=Don Mabry's Historical Text Archive

* cite web
title=The First Thanksgiving
publisher=Pilgrim Hall Museum

* cite web
Free audio readings of Thanksgiving proclamations by William Bradford, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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