When is Thanksgiving this year?

Is there any special reason why each country’s Thanksgiving feast is observed on a different day? I can understand why the Thanksgiving dinner menu would vary from place to place, but if I come home in time, US Thanksgiving will be my fourth Thanksgiving holiday this fall. So, when is Thanksgiving this year?

William Cain

in Events and Holidays

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Kathy Robinson on November 15, 2018

The easiest way to remember is that the United States observes Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. So, when Thanksgiving is, this year, will be November 22, 2018.

Thanksgiving is a harvest festival. Harvest festivals are usually celebrated at the end of the major crop harvest. In large countries, there can be more than one major crop and harvest season—and some countries have more than one thanksgiving feast. In the United States, late November has seemed like a good compromise for the national Thanksgiving Day, with local harvest festivals scattered all over the map and calendar. In Canada, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Similar harvest feast holidays are celebrated around the world, usually but not always in autumn. Whether or not the holiday is officially observed by religious groups with an emphasis on thanking God, for many people it’s all about sharing food.

In addition to reflecting local agriculture, some countries’ harvest festivals reflect local culture and history. Celebrations may incorporate a religious holiday or historic event. Some cultures also have thanksgiving feast traditions that celebrate historic events rather than harvests.

In the United States, Thanksgiving feasts trace their origin to the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. Their original menus have not been preserved but were probably much less lavish than the “traditional Thanksgiving dinner” as we know it. Thanksgiving dinner is always a celebration of local produce. The heart of the tradition is a feast for a large extended family or community group; a traditional Thanksgiving dinner feeds at least ten people, usually more.

The idea of celebrating Thanksgiving on a Thursday has always been to make it easier for people to spend four or five days with their extended family. Picnicking, sightseeing, sports, preparing houses for winter, and sometimes enjoying the first winter weather of the season, traditionally keep people together long enough to eat all the leftover food.

Though eating Thanksgiving meals in a restaurant seems heretical to some Americans, several restaurants advertise Thanksgiving dinner menus, usually featuring turkey. Those who find themselves alone on “Turkey Day” are not, in fact, alone.

 

Jeffrey Rodriguez2 months ago

There’s an incomplete list of “thanksgiving days,” with their dates, online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_harvest_festivals . Learning about what different countries celebrate with each traditional Thanksgiving feast is a great idea for a school project. Students can find free images and clip art, even recipes, online. At home they might even try cooking some of the food. While we think of turkey, dressing, gravy, pumpkin pie, and then corn, beans, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and greens as the basic template for a Thanksgiving menu, in different parts of North America macaroni or spaghetti, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, okra, jambalaya, parsnips, pecans, chocolate, salmon, shrimp, chili, barbecue, curry, and even ice cream can also be part of the Thanksgiving dinner tradition. The idea is to give thanks for anything we harvest even if, in November, it can only be eaten in a dried, canned, or frozen form. I’m thankful for tomatoes too! 

Ronald Miller2 months ago

I feel sorry for anyone eating a holiday meal in a restaurant, even if it’s Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, or some similar Southern nostalgia place. Buffet restaurants like the Golden Corral or the Asian-influenced buffet chains serve the commercial equivalent of a Thanksgiving feast every day. A restaurant’s Thanksgiving dinner menu may offer all the traditional foods. Still, Thanksgiving is about family. For me it’s not a real Thanksgiving celebration if family members don’t spend time together cooking and eating. Vegan “tofurkey” can be soul food, maybe; restaurant food can’t. 


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