It’s Turkey time.
The Thanksgiving Holiday in the US
In advance of this all important US American holiday, we’re sharing some fast facts that you may not know. (Or, let’s be honest, that you may not remember).
Timing is Everything
We typically date the first Thanksgiving back to 1621 when the Native Americans and Pilgrims celebrated the harvest together in Plymouth. (This is in present day Massachusetts). However, there are several other key dates in the holiday’s history:
- 1777: the Continental Congress declares the first national American Thanksgiving
- 1789: George Washington proclaims a day of national thanksgiving (November 26) for the U.S. Constitution
- 1863: Abraham Lincoln proclaims Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November
- 1941: Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Crosses Cultures
Our Canadian neighbors celebrate Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday in October. Several other countries have similar festivals linked to gratitude, harvests, or a history of contact with US Americans. For example, there’s Erntedankfest in Germany. Or, there are Thanksgiving traditions in Liberia and Norfolk Island. Click here to see “How 7 Other Nations Celebrate Thanksgiving.”
It’s Turkey Time
Turkey is more than just the centerpiece of most American Thanksgiving feasts. It’s also the name of three small towns in the US! There’s Turkey, Texas, Turkey Creek, Louisiana, and Turkey, North Carolina. Other traditional foods people eat alongside turkey (most of which do not have towns named after them) are corn, squash, pumpkin, cranberry sauce, and apple pie.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the unofficial “2nd part” of the Thanksgiving holiday: Black Friday. This is the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. History suggests the name comes from Philadelphia (c. 1961). It was used to describe all of the vehicle and foot traffic occurring the day after Thanksgiving. Also, the term is linked to the day when retailers begin to turn a profit. They go from being “in the red” (losing money) to “in the black” (making money). More recently, Black Friday has been followed by Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.