Thanksgiving 2010 Celebration Date -
Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday in November. In 2010, Thanksgiving Day is Nov 25.
Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in North America, generally observed as an expression of gratitude. The most common view of its origin is that it was to give thanks to God for the bounty of the autumn harvest. In the United States, the holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. In Canada, where the harvest generally ends earlier in the year, the holiday is celebrated on the second Monday in October, which is observed as Columbus Day in the United States.
Thanksgiving day - Traditional celebration
Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with a feast shared amongst friends and family. In the United States, it is an important family holiday, and people often travel across the country to be with family members for the holiday. The Thanksgiving holiday is generally a "four-day" weekend in the United States, in which Americans are given the relevant Thursday and Friday off. Thanksgiving is almost entirely celebrated at home, unlike the Fourth of July or Christmas, which are associated with a variety of shared public experiences (fireworks, caroling, etc.)
In Canada, Thanksgiving is only a three-day weekend, and the holiday is not as important as in the US. Because of the shortened break there is far less travel during Canada's Thanksgiving and it is far harder for families to come together. As a result, Christmas is far more family oriented in Canada than it is in the United States. Additionally, while the actual Thanksgiving holiday is on a Monday, Canadians may eat their Thanksgiving meal on any day of that three day weekend. This often means celebrating a meal with one group of relatives on one day, and another meal with a different group of relatives on another day.
Since at least the 1930s, the Christmas shopping season technically begins when Thanksgiving ends. In New York City, the Macy's (department store) Thanksgiving Day Parade is held annually every Thanksgiving Day in Midtown Manhattan. The parade features moving stands with specific themes, scenes from Broadway plays, large balloons of cartoon characters and TV personalities, and high school marching bands. It always ends with the image of Santa Claus passing the reviewing stand. Thanksgiving parades also occur in other cities like Plymouth, Houston, Philadelphia (which claims the oldest parade), and Detroit (where it is the only major parade of the year). Due to the earlier date, Santa Claus parades in Canada do not fall on Thanksgiving; the only major parade on that day in Canada is the Oktoberfest parade in Kitchener-Waterloo.
While the second-biggest day of shopping of the year in the U.S. is still the Black Friday after Thanksgiving (the biggest is now the Saturday before Christmas), most shops start to stock for and promote the holidays immediately after Halloween, and sometimes even before.
U.S. tradition associates the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. 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.
The history of Thanksgiving in North America
Thanksgiving is closely related to harvest festivals that had long been a traditional holiday in much of Europe. The first north American celebration of these festivals by Europeans was held in Newfoundland by the Frobisher Expedition in 1578. Another event claiming to be the first Thanksgiving occurred on December 4, 1619 when 38 colonists from Berkeley Parish in England disembarked in Virginia and gave thanks to God.
Most people recognize the first Thanksgiving as taking place on an unremembered date, sometime in the autumn of 1621, when the Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate the bountiful harvest they reaped following their first winter in North America.
Two American colonists have personal accounts of the 1621 Thanksgiving in Massachusetts:
William Bradford, in Of Plymouth Plantation:
They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their house and dwelling against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned by true reports.
Edward Winslow, in Mourt's Relation:
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
The Pilgrims did not hold Thanksgiving again 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. 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.
Some, including historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., point out that the first time colonists from Europe gave thanks in what would become the United States was on December 4, 1619, in Berkeley, Virginia. That was when the thirty-eight members of The Stanford Company landed there after a three-month voyage in the Margaret. Having been recruited from Gloucestershire to establish a colony in the New World, the men were under orders to give thanks when they arrived, so the first thing they did was to kneel down and do so.
Thanksgiving in the United States
The Pilgrims set apart a day for thanksgiving at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest, in 1621; the Massachusetts Bay Colony 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.
During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress appointed one or more thanksgiving days each year, except in 1777, each time recommending to the executives of the various states the observance of these days in their states.
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. The Continental Congress proclaimed annual December Thanksgivings from 1777 to 1783, except in 1782.
George Washington again proclaimed Thanksgivings, now as President, in 1789 and 1795. President John Adams declared Thanksgivings in 1798 and 1799. President Madison, in response to resolutions of Congress, set apart a day for thanksgiving at the close of the War of 1812. Madison declared the holiday twice in 1815; however, none of these were celebrated in autumn.
One 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.
It was President Abraham Lincoln that set the holiday as a regular yearly event for the final Thursday of November in 1863, and since that time each president has annually followed his example.
In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be the penultimate Thursday of November rather than the last. This was to give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas; at the time it was considered inappropriate to advertise goods for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. However, Roosevelt's declaration was not mandatory; some states went along with this recommendation and others did not. The United States Congress in 1941 split the difference and established that the holiday would occur annually on the fourth Thursday of November, which was sometimes the last Thursday and sometimes the next to last. On November 26 that year President Roosevelt signed this bill into US law.
Since 1970 some American Indians and others have held a National Day of Mourning protest on Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Thanksgiving Day in Canada
Canadians trace the holiday to a feast held by Martin Frobisher in Newfoundland in 1578. It is also probable that American loyalists who emigrated to Canada after American independence brought with them many of their Thanksgiving traditions.
The Thanksgiving celebration was held occasionally in English areas of British North America in the eighteenth century, especially in Nova Scotia. The holiday rose to much greater prominence with the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. The holiday became entrenched in English Canadian society.
The first official Canadian Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on April 5, 1872 in gratitude for the Prince of Wales' recovery from serious illness. The holiday was not officially recognized again till 1879, when parliament declared Thanksgiving to be an annual national secular holiday. The date was moved several times, finally being set on its current date (the second Monday in October) in 1957. For much of the period before 1957 parliament proclaimed the date annually.