Wishing all our American friends in the USA and all round the world, a 'Happy Thanksgiving'!
When is Thanksgiving?
- Fourth Thursday in November. In the USA, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated every on the fourth Thursday of November.
- Originally celebrated on different days in different states, it was President Abraham Lincoln that was the first US president to officially declare Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November.
President Franklin D Roosevelt then officially 'set' the date in 1939 and it was approved by Congress in 1941.
Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Canada, Grenada, the Philippines, Saint Lucia, Liberia and the Netherlands.
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.
Black Friday. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday and traditionally heralds the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and is synonymous with special offers, deals and promotional sales.
The day after Thanksgiving was first given the name "Black Friday" in a 1951 journal which referred to workers calling in sick, in order to have a four-day Thanksgiving weekend.
Why is it called Thanksgiving?
- It was originally a day where people celebrated and gave thanks for the harvest of that and the coming year. But in the USA, it's also recognised as a feast that English colonists held to thank Native Americans for helping them start their new lives in the US. The first 'Thanksgiving' was celebrated after their first harvest in October 1621 and lasted three days.
When did it become a national holiday? Editor of Godey's Lady Book - Sarah Josepha Hale (a colonial women's magazine), wrote letters to five US presidents asking them to support legislation establishing a national holiday of thanksgiving, managing to successfully convince Lincoln in 1863.
Before Thanksgiving Day, George Washington's Birthday and Independence Day were the only US national holidays.
- However, from the perspective of many native Americans, Thanksgiving symbolises centuries of land seizure and the erosion of tribal cultures.
Why is turkey at Thanksgiving?
Some believe that founding father Alexander Hale (19th Century) proclaimed no "Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day', and it was his emphasis on a roast turkey, that resulted in it being the preferred symbol for the festivities. However, others believe the turkey was chosen because of it's size (large enough to feed several people), and it doesn't serve an additional purpose unlike other livestock e.g chickens / hens laying eggs, cows producing milk.
- More than 50 million turkeys are served in the US every year for Thanksgiving.
- Since 1947 US presidents have been gifted with turkeys at Thanksgiving (which are usually eaten).
- Ronald Reagan was the first president to "pardon" a turkey, in 1987 - essentially allowing it not to be killed and eaten. His successor, George HW Bush, then turned the pardoning ceremony into a White House tradition in 1989.
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