Home   Calendar   Holidays   the United States   Thanksgiving Day
Flag for USA

Thanksgiving Day in the United States

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It precedes Black Friday.

Is Thanksgiving Day a Public Holiday?

Thanksgiving Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Thanksgiving Day is a federal holiday in the United States.

©iStockphoto.com/Olga Lyubkina

What Do People Do?

Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have.

Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day. Some parades or festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season. Some people have a four-day weekend so it is a popular time for trips and to visit family and friends.

Public Life

Most government offices, businesses, schools and other organizations are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Many offices and businesses allow staff to have a four-day weekend so these offices and businesses are also closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day. Public transit systems do not usually operate on their regular timetables.

Thanksgiving Day it is one of the busiest periods for travel in the USA. This can cause congestion and overcrowding. Seasonal parades and busy football games can cause disruption to local traffic.

Background

Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. Each year since 1970, a group of Native Americans and their supporters have staged a protest for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. American Indian Heritage Day is also observed at this time of the year.

There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas in 1598. Another early event was held in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast.

In the second half of the 1600s, thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become annual events. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one thanksgiving each year. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.

Thanksgiving Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuNov 25Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2011ThuNov 24Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2012ThuNov 22Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2013ThuNov 28Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2014ThuNov 27Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2015ThuNov 26Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2016ThuNov 24Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2017ThuNov 23Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2018ThuNov 22Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2019ThuNov 28Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 
2020ThuNov 26Thanksgiving DayFederal Holiday 

You might also like

Look Up for Shooting Stars!

Look Up for Shooting Stars!

The Leonid meteor shower is active now and peaks on Nov 17/18. Use our Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map to see when and where to best see these shooting stars. more

Commuters and tourists in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom.

Daylight Saving Time (DST)

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward 1 hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight. more

Calendar with 12 months

12 Months of the Year

The 12 months of the year are linked to the Moon's orbit around Earth. Why are there 12 months? What do the month names mean? more