When Is Thanksgiving? A Celebration of Gratitude and Tradition

When Is Thanksgiving? A Celebration of Gratitude and Tradition

Discover the history and date of Thanksgiving, a beloved holiday of gratitude and tradition. Uncover the origins and customs that make this special day a time for reflection and togetherness.

Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday in the United States that holds a special place in the hearts of many. It’s a time for families and friends to come together, share a feast, and express gratitude for the blessings in their lives. But have you ever wondered when Thanksgiving is celebrated and how this cherished tradition began? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the history and date of Thanksgiving, as well as the customs that make this holiday so meaningful.

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The Origins of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving’s roots in the United States trace back to the early 17th century. The most well-known Thanksgiving story revolves around the Pilgrims, a group of English settlers who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. After a challenging first year in the New World, they joined with the Wampanoag Native Americans for a three-day feast in 1621 to celebrate a successful harvest. This event is often considered the “First Thanksgiving.”

When Is Thanksgiving Celebrated?

Thanksgiving in the United States is officially celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This date was established as a federal holiday by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. The choice of the fourth Thursday in November aimed to extend the holiday shopping season, a tradition that continues today with the advent of “Black Friday” shopping the following day.


Traditions and Customs

Thanksgiving is known for its traditional customs, which include:

1. Thanksgiving Dinner

  • At the heart of Thanksgiving is a lavish feast featuring roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and an array of delectable sides and desserts. It’s a time to indulge in a scrumptious meal shared with loved ones.

2. Parades:

  • Many cities across the United States host Thanksgiving Day parades, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City being the most renowned. These parades feature giant balloons, marching bands, and elaborate floats.

3. Football 

  • Watching football games on Thanksgiving Day has become a cherished tradition for many families, with NFL games taking center stage.
    • NFL Official Website: The official website of the National Football League provides comprehensive information about Thanksgiving Day games, including schedules, team matchups, and historical statistics.
    • ESPN: ESPN is a sports network that covers NFL football extensively, and they provide in-depth coverage of Thanksgiving Day games, including previews, analysis, and live updates.
    • CBS Sports: CBS Sports offers news and analysis on NFL games, including Thanksgiving matchups. You can find schedules, scores, and expert commentary here.
    • NBC Sports: NBC Sports covers the NFL and provides information about Thanksgiving Day games, including televised matchups and analysis.
    • NFL Team Websites: Each NFL team has its own official website where you can find detailed information about their Thanksgiving Day games, schedules, and team-specific news.
    • Sports Illustrated: Sports Illustrated’s NFL section covers Thanksgiving football games with news, analysis, and feature articles.

4. Volunteer and Charity Work

Some individuals and families choose to spend their Thanksgiving volunteering at local shelters or engaging in acts of charity to help those less fortunate, emphasizing the spirit of giving back.

Thanksgiving Feast: A Culinary Celebration


1. Roast Turkey:

  • The centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is a beautifully roasted turkey. Families often spend hours preparing and cooking the turkey to perfection, with a crispy golden-brown skin and juicy, flavorful meat.
  • Some popular methods for cooking turkey include roasting, frying, smoking, or even grilling, each offering a unique flavor and texture.

2. Stuffing (Dressing):

  • Stuffing, also known as dressing, is a savory mixture of bread, herbs, vegetables, and seasonings. It’s often cooked inside the turkey cavity or separately as a side dish.
  • Variations of stuffing recipes abound, with ingredients like sausage, chestnuts, cranberries, and even oysters, allowing for personalization to suit different tastes.

3. Mashed Potatoes:

  • Creamy mashed potatoes are a comforting side dish, often served with gravy. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes are popular choices for making fluffy mashed potatoes.
  • Some variations include adding garlic, herbs, or cheese to enhance the flavor.

4. Cranberry Sauce:

  • Cranberry sauce is a sweet and tangy accompaniment made from cranberries, sugar, and water. It adds a burst of vibrant color and flavor to the meal.
  • Many families enjoy cranberry sauce in both the traditional jellied form and as chunky relish with orange zest or nuts.

5. Gravy:

  • Gravy is a rich sauce made from the pan drippings of the roasted turkey, flour, and broth. It’s poured over the turkey and mashed potatoes to add extra flavor and moisture to the meal.

6. Green Bean Casserole:

  • Green bean casserole is a classic side dish made with green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and crispy fried onions. It’s a creamy and crunchy addition to the Thanksgiving table.

7. Sweet Potatoes (Yams):

  • Sweet potato dishes often make an appearance, with popular variations being candied sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows or sweet potato casserole with a pecan or streusel topping.

8. Dinner Rolls:

  • Soft and warm dinner rolls or biscuits are served alongside the main meal, perfect for sopping up gravy or creating mini turkey sandwiches.

9. Pumpkin Pie:

  • Pumpkin pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. It’s a creamy, spiced pie made from pumpkin puree, sugar, and traditional spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

10. Pecan Pie:

  • Pecan pie is another beloved dessert, featuring a gooey filling made from pecans, corn syrup, sugar, and eggs, all encased in a flaky pastry crust.

11. Other Desserts:

  • In addition to pumpkin and pecan pie, dessert tables often feature an assortment of treats, including apple pie, cherry pie, or even sweet potato pie.

12. Regional Variations:

  • It’s important to note that while these dishes are commonly found on Thanksgiving tables across the United States, regional variations and family traditions can result in diverse menus. Some families may include dishes from their cultural heritage or experiment with creative recipes.

In the tapestry of American traditions, Thanksgiving stands as a remarkable thread, woven with stories of pilgrims and Native Americans, abundant feasts, and heartfelt expressions of gratitude. It’s a day that transcends generations, reminding us of the importance of family, community, and the simple yet profound act of giving thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!