Thanksgiving for the year 2023 is celebrated/observed on Thursday, November 23rd. There are until the next observance.
America’s Thanksgiving holiday, which was founded in the 1500s, mythologized in 1621, and observed even through the darkest days of the Civil War, is today one of the country’s most anticipated and adored days, celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday in November (November 24, 2022). Perhaps no other nonsectarian celebration has as much history. Thanksgiving has come to represent family, friends, food, and football—a unique and joyous holiday without a well-established gift-giving component. Instead, the holiday encourages all of us to be thankful for what we do have.
📆 When is Thanksgiving?
This year, Thanksgiving is on November 23rd. It is the 4th Thursday in November; in 2024, it is on Saturday.
→ Did you know: Turkey is the name of four towns in the United States: Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and Louisiana.
You can also learn all fun things you didn’t know about and facts about November 23, 2023.
📜 History of Thanksgiving
This tale does not always begin with pilgrims.
Evidence suggests that Spanish explorers and settlers performed Thanksgiving celebrations in what is now Florida and New Mexico around the late 1500s. Thanksgivings were also held in what would become the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607. The first permanent settlement, Jamestown, held one in 1610.
The Plymouth immigrants, known as Pilgrims, did not arrive in the New World for another decade. After their first harvest in 1621, they celebrated for three days in Plymouth. The meeting featured 50 Mayflower passengers (all of the 100 that had arrived) and 90 Native Americans. The four adult Pilgrim women who survived their first winter in the New World, along with their young daughters and various slaves, prepared the feast.
During the war, the Continental Congress designated one or more Thanksgiving days each year, proposing to the administrators of the several states that these days be observed in their respective states. In December 1777, George Washington, the revolutionary troops’ leader, declared a Thanksgiving holiday to commemorate the British loss at Saratoga.
The Continental-Confederation Congress, which administered the United States from 1774 until 1789, declared many “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving.” This finally manifested itself in today’s traditional American observances of Thanksgiving and the National Day of Prayer.
In 1789, New Jersey congressman Elias Boudinot urged that the House and Senate jointly request that President Washington establish a day of thanksgiving for “the many manifest favors of Almighty God.” Washington then established the first federally mandated Thanksgiving Day in the United States. “Now therefore, I recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of the United States to the service of that great and glorious being, who is the beneficent author of all that was, is, or will be,” it said in part.
For decades, the holiday was inconsistent.
Civil War Period
In 1863, President Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day to be observed on November 26—the month’s last Thursday. The proclamation was written by Secretary of State William H. Seward and read in part:
“Peace has been maintained with all nations; order has been maintained; the laws have been respected and obeyed; and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict.”
“I therefore invite my fellow citizens throughout the United States, as well as those at sea and in foreign lands, to set aside and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens.”
Since then, the United States has honored Thanksgiving.
Future presidents followed Lincoln’s lead and declared Thanksgiving to be held on the fourth Thursday of November each year. However, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth. FDR reasoned that an earlier Thanksgiving would allow merchants more time to sell items before Christmas, thus aiding the country’s recovery from the Great Depression. A 1942 statute declaring the fourth Thursday of each year a federal holiday has remained in effect ever since.
☑️ Thanksgiving facts
✅ A lot of calories are consumed
The average number of calories consumed during the Thanksgiving holiday is 4,500.
✅ You can celebrate Thanksgiving 17th-century style
If you want to experience Thanksgiving as it was in the 1600s, a portion of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is still more or less the same; tickets to celebrate Thanksgiving there are purchased months in advance.
✅ The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
There were no enormous floats or balloons in the original Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the early 1920s.
✨ Things to do on Thanksgiving
Invite the family to join you in serving the community by helping at a local shelter before sitting down to a pleasant, warm lunch at home. It’s a wonderful way to help others who are less fortunate, and it allows the entire family to participate.
⚡ Bake a pie
Pies are a traditional Thanksgiving dish. You can’t go wrong with pecan, pumpkin, apple, or cherry. Preheat the oven, put on an apron, and get to work!
⚡ Start a take-out tradition
A Thanksgiving feast might take hours to prepare. Many establishments provide Thanksgiving feasts. Alternatively, establish a new tradition by ordering takeout! It may be the Chinese restaurant down the block, Indian cuisine, or even your favorite pizza joint. And don’t forget to tip! The theme of the day is gratitude.
📅 Thanksgiving Observances
You can view all November holidays, including Federal and other Cooking holidays.
We will continue to update this page with new information and interesting facts about Thanksgiving. So be sure to check back soon.