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Thanksgiving is a United States federal holiday. People in the US celebrate the fourth Thursday of November as the national Thanksgiving Day. While most people associate Thanksgiving with the United States, it is not the only country that celebrates this holiday. Canada, the US’ neighbor to the north, celebrate their Thanksgiving a whole month before their southern neighbors, on the second Monday of October.

For people in the United States, Thanksgiving marks the commencing of the holiday season that starts with Thanksgiving and ends in the new year. This holiday season is a period of the busiest shopping days throughout the year. The reason for an increase in sales during this time of the year is the people’s willingness to spend more and various offers provided by the businesses in the guise of Thanksgiving sales, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

Thanksgiving And The Holiday Season

For most Americans, Thanksgiving Day marks the official start of the holiday season. It is the time of the year when schools, colleges, and various government and private businesses provide extended weekends leaves to students and employees so that they can visit their family and friends.

The holiday season that beings after Thanksgiving Day in the US are the busiest time for the retail business and travel industry. Many companies experience their sales sky-rocketing in this period, as people buy gifts and present for their family and friends, driving the sales volume.

In the last couple of decades of the 20th century, businesses started offering special deals on the day after Thanksgiving. This day quickly become known as Black Friday and has evolved into the tradition we see today. With time, Black Friday became massive as people were shopping for Christmas and new year. The more the people wanted to shop on Black Friday, the more it meant that they wouldn’t be able to get the things they were looking for, so with passing time, businesses added more special shopping days in the holiday season.

The Small Business Saturday is another day to grab excellent deals on products. This day was born out of the movement promoting shopping at smaller local establishments and falls on the last Saturday of November, two days after Thanksgiving.

Cyber Monday is another invention of the companies. It started in the early days of the internet, hence the name. The tradition came into existence when people returning to work after an extended weekend started taking advantage of their employer’s broadband internet connection for online shopping. The retailers soon realize the opportunity and began offering discounts and enticing deals to meet the demand and increase their sales volume.

Thanksgiving Dinner

The central element of Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a large meal. Typically a large roasted turkey severed with various side dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce is the traditional dinner you could find in most US and Canadian households.

Most dishes of the traditional American version of Thanksgiving contain food native to the new world. According to tradition, the Native Americans gave the Pilgrims these food items or learned how to grow them from the Natives. Thanksgiving dinner is the single most massive eating event in the US. People eat more on this day than on any other day of the year.

During Thanksgiving, turkey is the food item sold most in the United States. A person cannot imagine Thanksgiving without turkey, so much so that they colloquially call it “Turkey Day.” The Broad Breasted White turkey is a particular breed designed for Thanksgiving dinner. Its large size and high meat content make it suitable for such an occasion. While people prefer large turkeys for the Thanksgiving dinner, these do not occur naturally; breeders have to breed them artificially. Due to their size, these turkeys suffer from various health problems.

Thanksgiving Parades

When talking about Thanksgiving, how can one forget about the Thanksgiving parades? These parades are spectacular processions of humans, balloons, and all sorts of peculiar caricatures. The most famous Thanksgiving parade is undoubtedly the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, held in the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.

The parade features large balloons, performance from Broadway musicals, TV personalities, cartoon characters, high school marching bands, and parade floats with specific themes. The procession ends with the Santa Claus float that signifies the beginning of the Christmas season.

While the Macy’s parade is the largest globally, the oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade is Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that started in 1920. America’s Thanksgiving parade began in 1924, the same year as the Macy’s parade, which begins at Midtown Detroit and ends at Downtown Detroit and precedes the Detroit Lions’ annual Thanksgiving football game.

Other Thanksgiving parades include:

  • Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade – St. Louis, Missouri
  • America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade – Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Celebrate the Season Parade – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Uncle Dan’s Thanksgiving Parade – Chicago, Illinois
  • H-E-B Holiday Parade – Houston, Texas
  • UBS Parade Spectacular – Stamford, Connecticut
  • FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade – El Paso, Texas
  • Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Parada de Los Cerros Thanksgiving Day Parade – Fountain Hills, Arizona

Difference Between Thanksgiving In The US And Other Parts Of The World

Australia

People in the Australian external territory of Norfolk Island celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of November. The Norfolk observance falls six days after or one day before the commemoration in the United States. The holiday began on the Australian island when American whaling ships visited the island and brought Thanksgiving tradition from their country.

Brazil

Brazilian President Gaspar Dutra, on August 17th, 1949, through Law 781, instituted National Thanksgiving Day.  He did so on the suggestion of Ambassador Joaquim Nabuco, who was enthusiastic about the celebrations he saw at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as an ambassador in Washington in 1909.

Law 5110, in 1966, established that the Thanksgiving commemorations would take place on the fourth Thursday of November. Many families of American origin, Protestant Christian denominations like Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, and the church of Nazarene celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Evangelic churches like the Foursquare Gospel Church in Brazil also celebrate this day.

Canada

On the second Monday of October, people from Canada celebrate their annual holiday of Thanksgiving. It is a day of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. While the curches celebrate the original act of Parliament references God, most people celebrate Thanksgiving at their home in a more secular manner.

Thanksgiving Day is a statutory holiday in Canada, except for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia provinces. Though businesses might remain open in these provinces, people recognize and celebrate this holiday regardless of its statutory status.

Grenada

The Island of Grenada in West Indies Caribbean celebrate their version of Thanksgiving on October 25th. Though the holiday has the same name and people celebrate it roughly around the same time as the Canadian and American Version of Thanksgiving, their version of Thanksgiving is unrelated to those commemorations.

The islanders celebrate the holiday to mark the anniversary of the US-led invasion of 1983 in response to the execution of the socialist Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop by a military government.

Liberia

Liberia is a West African country that celebrates Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November. The Thanksgiving traditional celebrating in this country is rooted in its founding as a colony of the American Colonization Society. In 1821 the free people of color from the United States migrated to this nation. While the country recognizes Thanksgiving, the Americo-Liberians descendants of Liberia’s original African-American settlers are the people who celebrate this holiday.

Netherlands

Many of the Pilgrims who went to Plymouth resided in Leiden from 1602 to 1620. They recorded their marriages, births, and deaths at the St. Peter’s Church. A Gothic church in Leiden, to commemorate the Pilgrims’ hospitality in Leiden on their way to the New World, celebrate a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day service on the morning of the American Thanksgiving.

Orthodox Protestant churches in the Netherlands also observe the first Wednesday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

Philippines

The Philippines celebrated Thanksgiving as a public holiday on the same day as the American Thanksgiving during the 1st half of the 20th  century, when it was a US colony. During World War II and the Japanese occupation, both Filipinos and Americans celebrated Thanksgiving in secret. After the War, the tradition continued till 1969. President Ferdinand Marcos revived the holiday and changed the date to be on September 21st.

After Marcos’ ouster in 1986, people abandoned the tradition due to the controversial events during his prolonged administration. 

The Philippines recently being Thanksgiving as a commercial and cultural holiday. SM Supermalls are paving the way for a slow revival of Thanksgiving Day on the same days as in the US. Many malls and hotels offer special deals and sales on this day.

Saint Lucia

The country of Saint Lucia commemorates the tradition of Thanksgiving Day on the 1st Monday of October.

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