Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day is a federal holiday in the United States that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month of November each year to cheer for the blessings of the year that is soon to be over and to be grateful for the harvest.
This is one day that instills the virtue of being grateful for what one has been blessed with in life. Together with Christmas lurking just round the corner this holiday ushers in the festive season in the country.
Thanksgiving Day in the next five years:
In 2014, Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, November 27.
In 2015, Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, November 26.
In 2016, Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, November 24.
In 2017, Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, November 23.
In 2018, Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, November 22.
The event that is termed as the “First Thanksgiving” by the people of the United States was celebrated in the year 1621 by the Pilgrims or the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony. They celebrated for three days their first reap of harvest in the “New World”. Native Americans too participated in the celebrations.
The New England colonists had the tradition of thanksgiving prayer each day to show their gratefulness to the Lord for blessings bestowed like a victory in war or an end of a natural calamity.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation during the Civil War thereby declaring Thursday November 26th to be celebrated as Thanksgiving Day. He declared the day to be a federal holiday. His idea of Thanksgiving was to praise the Lord for kind blessings.
Some people however believe that the original Thanksgiving proclamation was signed by George Washington.
Non-essential Government departments do not function on this day. Schools are often closed too for the occasion. No such regulation is applicable in case of retail stores or restaurants. In fact, retailers come up with huge schemes and discounts to lure buyers during this time. Public transportation system may run a little erratic though.
Being Thankful: The tradition of giving thanks to God has resulted in special services organized in the Churches for the occasion. People thank the Lord for what they have been blessed with.
Acts of Charity: It is a tradition to offer goodies to the needy on this day, especially non perishable food items like canned food.
Parades: The occasion is celebrated by many parades held at different places.
Since the year 1924, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade has been organized annually, where floats with themes parade amidst a huge cheering crowd from Upper West area of Manhattan to the flagship store of the company located in Herald Square. Traditionally, the last float is the Santa Claus that signals the beginning of the Christmas paraphernalia.
The same year also marked the beginning of America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit which is considered to be one of the largest in the country which is joined by even celebrity guests.
Feasting and Festivity: Since the celebrations of the Pilgrims to the modern times, feasting has been an integral part of Thanksgiving celebrations, especially since it is a harvest festival. Traditional items served for the occasion include roasted or baked turkey (attributes to the name Turkey Day), stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, various fall vegetables and pumpkin pie. People take this opportunity to gather together for elaborate and crowded family dinners.
Shopping: This marks the beginning of the Christmas Shopping Season. Retailers offer immense discounts, and people especially pile up their shopping cart with gift items and even stuff for self indulgence. In fact planning presents from Thanksgiving leaves one ample time to get organized for Christmas and also to send presents to those dear ones who live in a faraway land.
Travel and Vacation: Since families try to come together for the purpose, there is a huge rush with all modes of communications booked long before November. Many families also decide to go for a vacation during this break to enjoy quality time in each other’s company.
Sports: Thanksgiving Day is closely associated with American Football as National Football League has played a game on this day since its inception. Apart from that many basketball, Ice Hockey and racing tournaments are also held on this day.