When is Thanksgiving, who celebrates it, why is it called Turkey Day and how is it tied to Black Friday?

It’s that time of year where people across the US dig out their favourite cornbread recipe and load up on cranberry sauce.

In the US, it’s a national holiday - something that is considered a very special occasion - which can symbolise peace, thankfulness and the beginning of the festive season.

While it is observed in countries such as the United States and Canada, it isn't widely celebrated across the world which can raise questions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

From who celebrates Thanksgiving, and when it falls to the meaning of the holiday and more, we answer all of your questions about Thanksgiving.

When is Thanksgiving?

In America, it is on the fourth Thursday of each November; in 2023 Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 23. It lasts for a single day, and it part of what is known as the Holiday Season, which also stretches into Christmas and New Year.

However, in Canada, Thanksgiving is observed on the second Monday of October. In 2023 it was held on Monday, October 9 - a full month before the American celebration. The origin of the Canadian Thanksgiving differs slightly from the US, and celebrations tend to be more laid back.

Who celebrates Thanksgiving?

A number of countries have similar holidays based around giving thanks for a harvest, but America and Canada are the two most prominent. American Thanksgiving has been exported to some countries around the world, though it has never really taken hold.

What does Thanksgiving mean?

Religious festivals of thanks after a large harvest were common across Europe, and the notion was brought over to the New World by early settlers in what is now the state of Virginia in 1619.

The story took an interesting turn in 1621, when some settlers in Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrated their harvest with the Native American tribe known as the Wampanoags, who had helped the pilgrims get through a difficult winter by sharing their food when the pilgrims had none.

These days, Americans use the occasion to gather with friends and family and be thankful for all the positive things they have in life.

How do Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?

The traditional way is to come together for a family feast involving turkey – hence the nickname Turkey Day - stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and various other trimmings, and maybe even pumpkin pie.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In America they may also attend a church service, enjoy a parade through the middle of town, or settle down to watch an American football match with two or three NFL games throughout the day which often feature the Dallas Cowboys or the Detroit Lions.

The day is also celebrated with the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, which sees giants balloons, marching bands and dancers taking to city streets.

In the run up to the day there may even have been some charity works or a donation, aimed at helping ensure everyone can enjoy a meal on Thanksgiving.

Why is Thanksgiving controversial?

While for some Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday, for others it is viewed as a reminder of the brutal conquest of Native Americans and their land.

The celebration is said to recognise the alliance between pilgrims and the Native tribes, but many believe it leaves out the ways in which those ties were broken and white-washes history.

When is Black Friday?

In America, Black Friday is the first Friday after Thanksgiving, so named as a rush of Christmas shoppers flood stores and make for a difficult trip.

This has been capitalised upon by retailers with various discounts, sales, and deals on assorted goods or products in a bid to lure more shoppers in their direction.

While Thanksgiving may not have taken off in other countries so much, the Black Friday sales have spread across the globe.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.