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Thanksgiving Traditions and Trivia

Does Your Family Have a Favorite Thanksgiving Tradition?


Thanksgiving Parade

Annual Thanksgiving Day parades are a tradition in the United States.

Photo: Getty Images

Unlike some holidays such as New Year's Eve and Fourth of July when people traditionally go out somewhere to celebrate, Thanksgiving is most commonly celebrated at home, with family and friends. This is one of the things I like best about Thanksgiving--I get to share wonderful traditions with those closest to me.

These Thanksgiving traditions and trivia include well-known traditions and little-known trivia about the Thanksgiving Day holiday. They are presented to enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of Thanksgiving. Consider sharing these ideas, stories, and trivia with your friends and family during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving Day

In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. But did you know that seven other nations also celebrate an official Thanksgiving Day? Those nations are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Korea, Liberia, and Switzerland.

History of Thanksgiving in America

According to most historians, the pilgrims never observed an annual Thanksgiving feast in autumn. In the year 1621, they did celebrate a feast near Plymouth, Massachusetts, following their first harvest. But this feast most people refer to as the first Thanksgiving was never repeated.

Oddly enough, most devoutly religious pilgrims observed a day of thanksgiving with prayer and fasting, not feasting. Yet even though this harvest feast was never called Thanksgiving by the pilgrims of 1621, it has become the model for the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Firsthand accounts of this feast, by Edward Winslow and William Bradford, can be found on Pilgrim Hall Museum.
Learn About the Pilgrim's Religion

Timeline of Thanksgiving in America

• 1541 - Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, led a thanksgiving Communion celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon, West Texas.
• 1565 - Pedro Menendez de Aviles and 800 settlers gathered for a meal with the Timucuan Indians in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida.
• 1621 - Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated a harvest feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
• 1630 - Settlers observed the first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England on July 8, 1630.
• 1777 - George Washington and his army on the way to Valley Forge, stopped in blistering weather in open fields to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America.
• 1789 - President Washington declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer."
• 1800s - The annual presidential thanksgiving proclamations ceased for 45 years in the early 1800s.
• 1863 - President Abraham Lincoln resumed the tradition of Thanksgiving proclamations in 1863. Since this date, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.
• 1941 - President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Giving Thanks

Naturally, one of the most common traditions of Thanksgiving Day celebrations is the giving of thanks. Here are a few Thanksgiving Day prayers, poems, and Bible verses to help you give thanks on Thanksgiving Day:
Thanksgiving Day Prayers
Bible Verses for Thanksgiving
Share Your Favorite Thanksgiving Verse
Poem - Pause and Give Thanks
Prayer - I Thank Thee
A Thanksgiving Prayer
Thanksgiving Table Blessing

Thanksgiving Quotations

"I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy."
- Anne Frank

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
- Theodore Roosevelt

"Your friend is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving."
- Kahlil Gibran

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."
- Edward Sandford Martin
More Thanksgiving Quotes by Christians

Thanksgiving Shopping

Another well celebrated tradition in the United States is the start of the Christmas shopping season the day after Thanksgiving, known as the busiest shopping day of the year.

Thanksgiving Parades

In Midtown Manhattan, New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held annually every Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving parades are also held in cities like Houston, Philadelphia and Detroit.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Official Site
America's Thanksgiving Parade Official Site

Thanksgiving Football

Football is an important part of many Thanksgiving Day celebrations in the United States.
• The Detroit Lions of the American National Football League have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1934 (except 1939-1944, during World War II).
• The Dallas Cowboys have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1966 (except 1975 and 1977).
• Many regional and rival college and high school football games are played on Thanksgiving weekend.

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