Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?
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Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving, aka The Most Important American Holiday

You may have heard of Thanksgiving Day - a uniquely American celebration that dates back to before the American Revolution. It's an official holiday and a source of national pride as Americans gather around the table to celebrate. From the first Thanksgiving in New England to the present-day celebrations, it's an enduring tradition that defines American life.

As you may know, National Thanksgiving Day is observed in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a national holiday with a rich background and symbolism we will discuss throughout this article. So, if you're looking for information on the history of Thanksgiving Christian perspective or are interested in discovering more about the history of Thanksgiving food, you have come to the right place!

Meanwhile, don’t forget that you can hire essay writer before we walk down history lane, who can write all the aspects of what makes Thanksgiving Day so unique!

How Did Thanksgiving Start?

Modern-Day Thanksgiving in the United States Has Its Roots in the 17th Century.

Americans consider Thanksgiving Day a national holiday based on a harvest feast shared by English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag Native American people in 1621 in New England. So, if you're looking for history essay help on the origins of Thanksgiving, the history of the Mayflower, or the joint resolution that led to Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday, we're here to give you some answers!

The Historical Events that Formed the Basis of Thanksgiving Day Took Place in New England.

The history of the Thanksgiving holiday has its origins in the late 17th century. In September 1620, a Mayflower ship set sail from Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers on board who wanted to seek a new life in the ‘New World.’ They were a blend of religious separatists looking for a new home where they could practice their faith free of persecution, as well as others who were enthralled by the possibility of building a prosperous life and owning land.

After a treacherous and uncomfortable 66-day journey, the ship anchored near the tip of Cape Cod, located in present-day New England, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower sailed across Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now known, established a village at Plymouth.

Plymouth's Thanksgiving celebrations began with a few colonists going ‘fowling,’ possibly for turkeys. Then, about 90 Wampanoag appeared unexpectedly at the settlement's gate, unnerving the 50 or so colonists. Nonetheless, the two groups socialized cordially over the next few days. The Wampanoag provided venison for the feast, including fowl, fish, eels, shellfish, stews, vegetables, and beer.

Since Plymouth was minimally developed and had few available goods, most people ate outside, sitting on the ground or in barrels with plates on their laps. The men shot guns, raced, and drank liquor while struggling to communicate in broken English and Wampanoag.

The Official Thanksgiving Day Was Established by the United States National Government

The tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving continued sporadically in different parts of the country until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday. Then, President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. It was mandated by a joint resolution passed by Congress in 1941 and a proclamation issued in 1942, making Thanksgiving a national holiday observed around the United States to this day.

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How is Thanksgiving Celebrated?

The modern-day Thanksgiving celebration is modeled after the historical event that took place in Plymouth. At the center of it is the Thanksgiving meal, consisting of the famous Thanksgiving turkey dish and a variety of new Thanksgiving traditions shared among American families across the nation and observed during National Thanksgiving Day.


At the Thanksgiving Day table, Americans eat Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, with recipes for each dish often being passed from one generation to the next within families. Usually, the short history of Thanksgiving is retold before the meal, and then everyone proceeds to enjoy the food in the company of their loved ones.

Why Is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Celebrated on a Thursday?

This question comes up most frequently in most ‘5 interesting facts about Thanksgiving’ lists. In the history of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day didn't always fall on the fourth Thursday in November. In fact, the date of the holiday has changed several times over the years. So, why is the Thanksgiving national holiday celebrated on a Thursday?

Well, there are a few reasons. During the first Thanksgiving, it’s likely that the Pilgrims chose to celebrate their harvest on a Thursday because it was the day when they had enough food to last them through the winter. What’s more, the fourth Thursday of November was chosen by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War. He proclaimed that the nation should come together to give thanks, despite its divisions. 

Ever since then, Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated on a Thursday in November since 1863, making it one of the oldest traditions in the United States.

Why Do We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

One of the most enduring traditions of Thanksgiving Day is the feast, and at the center of that feast is a roasted turkey. For many Americans, the turkey is synonymous with this national holiday, but why did this particular bird become such a holiday staple?

The tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving can be traced back to the very first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. According to historical accounts, the Wampanoag Indians who attended the dinner brought five deer and ‘wild fowl’ to share with the Pilgrims. While it's not clear exactly what kind of bird was served at that first Thanksgiving, it was likely a wild turkey. These birds were plentiful in the New World and were a major food source for Native Americans and early European settlers.

Over time, the tradition of eating turkey on national Thanksgiving Day became ingrained in American culture, and today, it remains an essential part of the holiday. Whether you enjoy your turkey roasted, fried, or smoked, there's no doubt that this humble bird has become an American icon. Therefore, it is the definite Thanksgiving staple – regardless of whether the ‘turkey history of Thanksgiving’ is unclear in its origins! And, to be frank, eating turkey isn't really among the weird Thanksgiving traditions. Find out more about those below!

thanksgiving traditions

Top Thanksgiving Traditions in the US

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is that it is a time when families and friends can come together to celebrate all they are thankful for. While each household can have its own unique Thanksgiving traditions, the following are usually shared in all American families. 

The Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

One popular tradition is the Thanksgiving feast. This typically includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Another common tradition is gathering around the table to say grace or share what one is thankful for. This is a time to reflect on their life's blessings and give thanks for all they have. Finally, many people choose to retell the Thanksgiving story and explain the origins of this national day observed on that special Thursday in November.

Thanksgiving Day Entertainment

For many people, national Thanksgiving Day is also a time to watch football, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, or go shopping for Black Friday deals. Thanksgiving Day is also considered the unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season, which generally begins as soon as Black Friday ends.

Regardless of the celebration, Thanksgiving is a time to come together with loved ones and give thanks. Keep reading to find out more traditions surrounding this national holiday!

Crack the Wishbone For Good Luck

Let's talk about weird Thanksgiving traditions first! Have you heard of ‘cracking the wishbone’? It's not a modern invention; it dates back to the days of ancient Rome. According to legend, two people would each take hold of an end of the chicken's wishbone and make a wish. The one who ended up with the larger piece of bone was said to be granted their desire. Over time, this practice spread to other parts of Europe and eventually made its way to North and South America.

It has become a tradition for families to crack the wishbone together on Thanksgiving Day. This is seen as a way of bonding and sharing in good fortune. For many, it is also fun and festive to kick off the holiday season. Whether or not you believe in superstition, there's no denying that cracking the wishbone is a cherished part of Thanksgiving celebrations!

Share What You Are Most Grateful for

There are many different Thanksgiving traditions around the world, but one of the things that makes Thanksgiving so unique is the focus on gratitude. For many people, taking the time to reflect on what they are most grateful for is an important part of the holiday.

It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget to appreciate all the good things someone has in their life. But during Thanksgiving, people are reminded to slow down and think about what they are truly thankful for. Whether it's family, friends, good health, or simply the roof over their heads, taking a moment to appreciate all one has is a cherished part of this special holiday.

Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the annual Thanksgiving traditions that dates back to 1924. Every year, thousands of people line the streets of New York City to watch the Macy's parade as it makes its way from Central Park to Macy's flagship store on 34th Street.

The parade features a host of colorful floats, marching bands, and performers, and it always ends with a visit from Santa Claus. Many consider watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade an essential part of their Thanksgiving celebration. The Macy's parade reminds us of what we are thankful for and helps create a sense of community and joy.

Watch Thanksgiving Day Football Games

For many people, watching football is an essential part of Thanksgiving Day. Of course, some are not fans of the sport and would prefer to spend the day with family or friends, catch up on some holiday shopping, or even spend some time discussing the history of Thanksgiving holiday. But for those who enjoy spending Thanksgiving Day watching television, a few things make it even more special.

First of all, multiple games are usually played throughout the day, so there's plenty of action to keep even the most die-hard fan entertained. And secondly, it's a great opportunity to bond with friends and family members who may not share their passion for football but can appreciate the tradition nonetheless. Whether rooting for their favorite teams or just enjoying the festive atmosphere, spending Thanksgiving Day, many Americans feel that watching football is a great way to celebrate this national day.

Chill Out With Thanksgiving Classic Movies

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and, of course, food. But it can also be a time for new Thanksgiving traditions, like enjoying some classic movies.

Miracle on 34th Street

‘Miracle on 34th Street’ is a holiday must-see. The film follows the story of Kris Kringle, who may or may not be the real Santa Claus. Either way, he brings joy and belief to those around him during the holiday season.

The First Thanksgiving

Another classic Thanksgiving movie, ‘The First Thanksgiving,’ is a children's movie that tells the story of the first Thanksgiving from the perspective of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

People who prefer comedy choose ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles,’ a hilarious movie about two men trying to get home for Thanksgiving, despite being stranded in various locations. 

Home Alone

‘Home Alone’ is always a hit for something a little more modern. The movie follows an 8-year-old boy who accidentally gets left behind when his family goes on vacation. He has to defend his home against two burglars and learns valuable lessons.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Lastly, no Thanksgiving movie marathon would be complete without ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.’ This timeless cartoon classic follows Charlie Brown and his friends as they celebrate the holiday together. It's the perfect mix of heartwarming and humorous and is sure to put a smile on everyone's face.

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Discover These Thanksgiving Traditions Around the World

While Thanksgiving Day is typically associated with North America, the holiday has also gained popularity in other countries, giving rise to different Thanksgiving traditions worldwide.

In Canada, for example, Thanksgiving is observed on the second Monday in October and is much more low-key than in the United States. Instead, families typically gather for a quiet dinner at home, often with roasted turkey and cranberry sauce. In Liberia, meanwhile, Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion that includes singing, dancing, and feasting on dishes such as fufu (a type of starchy pudding) and chicken stew. And in Germany, Erntedankfest (‘Harvest Thanksgiving’) is celebrated on the first Sunday in October and features a traditional meal of roast pork and potatoes.

So while the specifics may vary from place to place, Thanksgiving is ultimately a time to come together and give thanks for all we have. We share more about Thanksgiving celebrations around the world below!

thanksgiving traditions

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Thanksgiving is known as ‘Oud en Nieuw’ (Old and New Year's Eve) and is marked by some old Thanksgiving traditions observed throughout the centuries.

The holiday is celebrated on December 31st and marks the harvest season's end. Families gather to enjoy a traditional meal of roasted meats, vegetables, and fruits. After dinner, they often exchange gifts and share stories about their year. As the night draws to a close, they reflect on the past year, giving thanks for all they have been blessed with. Then, at midnight, they celebrate the start of a new year with fireworks and cheers.

For many people in the Netherlands, Thanksgiving is a time to cherish family traditions and thank them for all they have.

South India

In South India, the history of Thanksgiving holiday involves preparing a special feast. Traditional dishes such as turkey and stuffing are replaced with the spicier fare, and the meal is often served on banana leaves instead of plates.

In addition to food, music and dance play an important role in South Indian Thanksgiving. Families often gather around the television to watch Bollywood films, and popular songs are played on the radio. Thanksgiving in South India is a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy good food and company.


Thanksgiving also has roots in China. According to legend, the holiday began during the reign of Emperor Zhao Bing of the Western Zhou dynasty. A severe drought ravaged the land for one year, and the people were desperate for relief. So the emperor prayed to the gods and was answered by a dragon that brought rain and saved the crops. To show their gratitude, the people held a festival in honor of the dragon.

Over time, this festival evolved into what is now known as Thanksgiving and came with its own set of Thanksgiving traditions. Today, Chinese Thanksgiving (or ‘Double Ninth’) is usually celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. Families gather to enjoy traditional foods such as roasted suckling pigs and sweet glutinous rice balls. In recent years, some families have also begun to adopt American traditions such as turkey dinners and pumpkin pie.


Thanksgiving is a time to come together and give thanks, and in Korea, that means spending time with family and friends while enjoying a delicious feast. Korean Thanksgiving, or gujeolpan, is a tradition that dates back centuries and centers around a special dish of nine different vegetables served on a platter. The vegetables are typically chopped into thin strips and then cooked in a savory broth. Gujeolpan is traditionally served with rice and other side dishes, making for a hearty and satisfying meal.

Korean Thanksgiving is typically celebrated in early October and coincides with the harvest moon. Families gather to enjoy the holiday feast, and new Thanksgiving traditions involve participating in special activities like singing traditional songs or playing games. These traditions help to create lasting memories and bonds between loved ones, making Korean Thanksgiving a truly cherished holiday.


Thanksgiving in Liberia is celebrated on the first Thursday of November. According to its short history of Thanksgiving, it is a national day that marks a time for family and friends to come together and give thanks for their blessings.

Families often prepare traditional dishes, such as rice and beans, plantains, and sweet potato pie. They will also share stories and sing songs.

The celebration of Thanksgiving in Liberia is a cherished tradition that helps to bring people together and create lasting memories.


Did you know that Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Mexico? In fact, the first Thanksgiving in Mexico took place in 1598, when a group of Spanish explorers held a feast to celebrate their safe arrival in present-day New Mexico. This tradition continued, and by the early 1800s, Thanksgiving was celebrated throughout the whole country. However, the holiday looks quite different from the United States.

For starters, Mexicans typically celebrate Thanksgiving on October 12th, which is the independence day. In addition, feasts are also held to commemorate other important events in Mexican history, such as the defeat of the French Army at the Battle of Puebla. As for the food, Mexican Thanksgiving traditions often include meals consisting of traditional dishes such as turkey with mole sauce, tamales, and pozole soup.

So, while Thanksgiving may be associated with America, it also has roots around the world!

Interesting Facts You Never Knew About Thanksgiving

What are 5 interesting facts about Thanksgiving? For example, did you know that the first Thanksgiving feast was actually a three-day event? And that it wasn't held in October, as many people believe? Here are some other interesting facts about this popular holiday that you need to know!

Thanksgiving Initially Occurred in Canada

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is typically associated with the United States, but the first Thanksgiving occurred in Canada. 

The real history of Thanksgiving begins in 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher led an expedition in search of a northwest passage to Asia. After a long and arduous journey, Frobisher and his men finally arrived in Newfoundland, where they held a thanksgiving feast to celebrate their safe arrival. This event is considered to be the first Thanksgiving in North America. However, it wasn't until nearly 200 years later that pilgrims from England brought the tradition to the United States. 

In September 1621, the pilgrims held a harvest feast to give thanks for their successful first crop harvest. This feast is often considered to be the first American Thanksgiving. So, while Thanksgiving may be synonymous with the United States, its roots lie in Canada.

First Turkey Was Released By George H.W. Bush

How have U.S. presidents contributed to Thanksgiving traditions over time? On a beautiful day in 1989, George H.W. Bush made history when he became the first president to release a turkey into the wild. The event was part of a national effort to promote conservation and protect the wild turkey population.

Bush was joined by his wife, Barbara, and their two young daughters as he released the bird into its new home. The turkey, which had been raised on a farm in Virginia, was named Liberty. As the bird strutted away, Bush remarked that he hoped Liberty would ‘have a long and happy life.’

Thanks to the efforts of presidents like Bush, the wild turkey population has increased significantly in recent years. There are now more than seven million turkeys living in the United States. And each year, thousands of Americans participate in turkey hunting season, helping keep the population healthy and sustainable.

‘Jingle-Bells’ Was Intended As a Thanksgiving Tune

It's hard to imagine a more traditional Christmas song than ‘Jingle Bells.’ But as it turns out, the song was written for Thanksgiving. In 1857, James Pierpont composed the tune for a celebration at a Boston Sunday School. The song's original title was ‘One Horse Open Sleigh,’ and it did not mention Christmas whatsoever. It wasn't until several years later that the lyrics were altered to reference sleigh rides, snowflakes, and Santa Claus.

Over time, ‘Jingle Bells’ became firmly entrenched as a Christmas classic, and its original purpose was forgotten. Yet despite its status as a holiday staple, the song remains a reminder of its humble origins as a Thanksgiving tune and one of the most unlikely choices intended to be added to the long list of Thanksgiving traditions.

In 2011, the Dallas Turkey Run Broke a World Record

Here's a fun fact related to the history of Thanksgiving food: In 2011, the Dallas Turkey Run broke a world record with the largest number of participants dressed as turkeys.

The North Texas Food Bank organized the event to raise awareness about hunger in the area. Over 1,000 people registered for the run, and nearly 600 showed up on race day dressed as turkeys. The participants ranged in age from 2 to 82, and they came from all over the country to participate in the event.

In addition to breaking the world record, the Dallas Turkey Run also raised over $20,000 for the North Texas Food Bank. The money was used to provide meals for needy families during the holiday season.

Originally, the First Thanksgiving Was Celebrated for 3 Days

To wrap up our list, here's an interesting fact relating to the history of Thanksgiving holiday.

As we mentioned earlier, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by settlers and Native Americans in 1621. The celebration lasted for three days, during which time the two groups feasted on traditional English dishes such as roasted meats and pies and Native American staples such as corn and squash.

The first Thanksgiving was a peaceful occasion, setting the stage for future relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. In subsequent years, Thanksgiving Day became an annual tradition in many American households and a national holiday every fourth Thursday in November. It is typically celebrated with a large feast, including all the traditional dishes. While the meaning of Thanksgiving has changed over time, it remains a significant part of American culture and tradition.

National Thanksgiving Day: A National Holiday That Goes Beyond Sharing a Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving is a time to come together with loved ones, reflect on all we have to be grateful for, and enjoy some delicious food. It's also an excellent opportunity to learn more about the history and meaning of this holiday.

We hope you enjoyed reading our blog post and that it gave you some interesting facts to share at your next Thanksgiving dinner! And, if you're studying in best colleges for astrophysics in USA and you are looking for an admission essay writing service to prepare for your college applications, remember to check out the dedicated section of our website!

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