"Since being fixed at the fourth Thursday in November by law in 1941, the holiday in the United States can occur on any date from 22 to 28 November. When it falls on November 22 or 23, it is not the last Thursday, but the penultimate Thursday in November. As it is a Federal holiday, all United States government offices are closed and employees are paid for that day. It is also a holiday for the New York Stock Exchange and most other financial markets and financial services companies."
Thanksgiving dates, 2009–2014
• November 26, 2009
• November 25, 2010
• November 24, 2011
Annual tradition in the United States since 1863
"Thanksgiving Day, or Thanksgiving, presently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. It did not become a federal holiday until 1941. Thanksgiving was historically a religious observation to give thanks to God, and is still celebrated as such by most religious families, but it is now considered a secular holiday as well."
Most Americans celebrate by gathering at home with family or friends for a holiday feast. Though the holiday's origins can be traced to harvest festivals which have been celebrated in many cultures since ancient times, the American holiday is tied to the deliverance of the English settlers by Native Americans after the harsh winter at Plymouth, Massachusetts and that event has become the pre-eminent foundation story for English North America.
A Bit of History
"The first recorded Thanksgiving ceremony took place on September 8, 1565, when 600 Spanish settlers, under the leadership of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, landed at what is now St. Augustine, Florida, and immediately held a Mass of Thanksgiving for their safe delivery to the New World; there followed a feast and celebration. As the La Florida colony did become part of the United States, this can be classified as the first Thanksgiving, although it was not a harvest festival."
The Spanish colonial town of San Elizario (San Elceario), near El Paso, Texas, has also been said to be the site of the first Thanksgiving to be held in what is now known as the United States, though that was also not a harvest festival. Spaniard Don Juan de Oñate ordered his expedition party to rest and conducted a mass in celebration of thanksgiving on April 30, 1598."
• Also Research: 1621 Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims at Plymouth
Vacation and travel
"During Thanksgiving Day families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner. Consequently the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Thanksgiving is a four-day or five-day weekend vacation for schools and colleges. Most business and government workers (78% in 2007) are given Thanksgiving and the day after as paid holidays. Thanksgiving Eve, the night before Thanksgiving, is one of the busiest nights of the year for bars and clubs, as many college students and others return to their hometowns to reunite with friends and family."
"In Buffalo, New York, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is the day of the World's Largest Disco, a tribute to disco and the 1970s that regularly draws thousands of dancers and the top performing acts of the 1970s."
Parades (Research also: List of holiday parades)
"In New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held annually every Thanksgiving Day from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Macy's flagship store in Herald Square, and televised nationally by NBC. The parade features parade floats with specific themes, scenes from Broadway plays, large balloons of cartoon characters and TV personalities, and high school marching bands. The float that traditionally ends the Macy's Parade is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the Christmas season.
Friday after Thanksgiving
"The Friday after Thanksgiving, although not a Federal holiday, is a holiday for many companies, except for those in retail. It is also a day off for most schools. It is popularly known as • Black Friday, so-called because of the heavy shopping traffic on that day. Another reason for the term 'Black Friday' is that many stores reach sales numbers that take them out of the red and (hopefully) keep them in the black for the rest of the fiscal year. Black Friday is considered to be the start of the Christmas shopping season."
Advent (Christmas) season
"The secular Thanksgiving holiday also coincides with the start of the four week Advent season before Christmas in the Western Christian church calendars. Advent starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day on December 25; in other words, the Sunday between November 27 and December 3 inclusive."
"American football is an important part of many
Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Professional
games are traditionally held on Thanksgiving Day; until
recently, these were the only games played during the week
apart from Sunday or Monday night. The National Football
League has played games on Thanksgiving every year since
its creation; the tradition is referred to as the Thanksgiving
Classic. The Detroit Lions have hosted a game every
Thanksgiving Day since 1934, with the exception of 1939–
1944 (due to World War II)."