Celebrated on a fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada, Thanksgiving is a national holiday. Apart from these two major states there are some other nations where this day is observed to give thanks for the preceding year's harvest. While mostly Thanksgiving is celebrated in a secular manner, some regions do have religious significance attached to it.
The beginnings of this festival in Canada can be dated back to the seventeenth century French settlers who on the occasion of having a good harvest celebrated this day and shared the food with the natives. Similarly in the U.S, Thanksgiving was brought along with the English Puritan immigrants who as believed by the historians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
Nowadays however, this festival has become an opportunity for families and friends to get together and spend some quality time with each other. In the U.S it is more of a four day long weekend, where people get off from work and travel from distant places to have dinner with their close ones.
The celebrations and practices of Thanksgiving include coming together of family members and friends in large numbers to have a Thanksgiving dinner with Turkey being the inevitable dish. Other traditional Thanksgiving delicacies include cranberry sauce, pecan pie, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Along with the special food, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade remains an attraction for most Americans who either are a part of it by going out on the windy roads or experience it through the television. As football is loved and enjoyed by many in the U.S, Thanksgiving becomes the day of watching television sport. Hours and hours of NFL games are aired on this day, which keep the people gathered together, glued to the television.
It's been celebrated every year since 1863, when US President Abraham Lincoln declared this as a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens", during the Civil War. However, the event 'First Thanksgiving', as called by the Americans dates further back to 1621 when the pilgrims celebrated it I the 'New World' after their first harvest.
The origin of Canadian Thanksgiving can be trace back to 1578 when explorer Martin Frobisher on his voyage from England to Pacific Ocean in search of a northern passage to reach the latter, held the Thanksgiving celebration. This, he did not for the good harvest but to survive the dangerous icebergs and storms on the course of his journey.
It makes up for the day of friends and family reunion wherein they all spend a good time together over a special meal. The day is synonyms with fun & entertainment, gifting, community praying and family feasting. Turkey is the main dish of the meal along with some other cooked delicacies. After a great meal, people indulge themselves in various entertaining activities like playing charades, watching a movie, taking family pictures, etc.
Traditionally renowned as a harvest festival, people basically express their gratefulness towards God and thank him for all what they possess in life and seek his divine blessings, apart from thanking him for a bountiful harvest.
Thanksgiving parades are a common site across some cities and towns in United Sates, held on this day. People go frenzy over shopping and eating out at restaurants is an inherent part of Thanksgiving Day celebration. Also, football matches are closely associated with the celebration and are organized every year during this time. Americans also consider the Thanksgiving weekend to be the beginning of Christmas season.
Gaiety and rapture occupies the hearts of the people during Thanksgiving celebrations. Both kids and adults look forward for the Grandeur feasts to be prepared on this festive occasion.
It's not a day of celebration for one and all. A group of Native Americans stage a protest for National Day of Morning at Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. It's been done every year since 1970.
American Indian Heritage Day (also known as Native American Heritage Day), is observed in United States on the Friday after the Thanksgiving Day. It is observed in the honor of rich history, cultural heritage and inevitable contributions of American Indians to United States. This day is recognized as a State holiday in some states, for example Maryland.
The first main Thanksgiving, traced back to 1623, was observed by the pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, when they thanked the rain which ended a long period of drought. During these old times, the day was observed in the form of special church services and not feasts.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.