Happy family having Thanksgiving dinner together.
Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
European Pilgrims sharing a meal with Wampanoag Indians in 1621.
Stuffed butternut squash with quinoa, kale, cranberries, and chick peas — one of many vegetarian Thanksgiving alternatives.
Person carrying a shopping bag with mannequins in the background.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. This holiday is a time for families to come together, enjoy each other’s company and, as the name suggests, remember what one has to be thankful for.

Roasted turkey and sweet potatoes

Typically, on Thanksgiving Day, a dinner including roasted turkey, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce is prepared. The meal, which is a classical symbol of the holiday, is then consumed together with family and close friends. Few Americans want to miss this event, with families habitually clearing their schedules for the end of November, and if necessary, traveling long distances to be able to spend time together.

Pilgrims feasting with Indians

The historical origin of coming together and dedicating a day to feasting and gratitude at the end of November is usually said to be a 1621 feast that European Pilgrims enjoyed together with a group of Wampanoag Indians. On this occasion, the Wampanoags, who had taught the Pilgrims how to grow crops, were invited by the Pilgrims to eat with them, presumably out of gratitude. The food that the Pilgrims then shared with their invited guests, records hold, came from the crops the Europeans had just learned to grow and that had helped them stay alive, giving the Pilgrims good reason to bestow a part of it to their Native American benefactors.

The historical feast and the friendly Euro–Indian relations notwithstanding, for many Native Americans today, Thanksgiving evokes sadness. This is because, to them, the 1621 event marks the beginning of a period when Indian populations would become decimated by European diseases and fire power.

Another thing, unrelated to indigenous people, which evokes sadness among groups of Americans on Thanksgiving, is the destiny of the many turkeys that are raised for meat production. This concern with animal welfare, quite understandably, has led to vegetarian alternatives sometimes being prepared as substitutes for the standard turkey dinner.

Black Friday

Aside from both food choices and the historical origin of Thanksgiving, yet important to the holiday itself, are popular activities going on around the time of the holiday. Notably, practically every level of football play games on Thanksgiving Day, and the day after is Black Friday.