Is Thanksgiving an American Holiday?

Thanksgiving is a widely celebrated holiday in the United States, but have you ever wondered if it is truly an American holiday? In this article, we will explore the question “Is Thanksgiving an American Holiday?”, origins of Thanksgiving and its historical significance. We will delve into the history of Thanksgiving, its association with American culture, and whether it is exclusively an American holiday or celebrated in other parts of the world. So, let’s dive in and unravel the fascinating story behind Thanksgiving.

Is Thanksgiving an American Holiday?

The First Thanksgiving

The roots of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early 17th century in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims, who were English settlers, held a harvest feast in 1621 to express gratitude for a successful harvest season. This event, known as the “First Thanksgiving,” marked the beginning of a tradition that would later become a national holiday.

Is Thanksgiving an American Holiday?

Abraham Lincoln and the National Thanksgiving Proclamation

Although Thanksgiving had been celebrated in various states, it was not until 1863 that it became an official national holiday. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday on the last Thursday of November to foster unity and gratitude during a time of great division in the country – the Civil War. This proclamation solidified the significance of Thanksgiving in American culture.

is thanksgiving an american holiday

Is Thanksgiving an American Holiday?

The Thanksgiving Meal

A quintessential part of Thanksgiving is the traditional feast shared with family and friends. The centerpiece of the meal is often a roasted turkey, accompanied by a variety of side dishes such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. This meal has become synonymous with Thanksgiving and is an integral part of American Thanksgiving traditions.

is thanksgiving an american holiday

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Another iconic aspect of Thanksgiving in America is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This annual parade, held in New York City since 1924, features giant balloons, floats, marching bands, and performances. Millions of spectators line the streets, and millions more tune in to watch the parade on television, making it an integral part of the Thanksgiving experience for many Americans.

Football and Thanksgiving

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is also synonymous with football. The National Football League (NFL) has made it a tradition to schedule games on Thanksgiving Day. Families gather around the television or even attend live games to cheer for their favorite teams and enjoy some friendly competition on this special holiday.

Thanksgiving Beyond the United States

Similar Harvest Festivals Around the World

While Thanksgiving may have its roots in American history, similar harvest festivals are celebrated in various parts of the world. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October and shares many similarities with the American tradition. Other countries such as Liberia, Grenada, and the Netherlands also have their versions of Thanksgiving, each with unique customs and traditions.

is thanksgiving an american holiday

Cultural Adaptations

In some countries, Thanksgiving has been adapted to fit local customs and traditions. For example, in Japan, a similar holiday called “Labor Thanksgiving Day” is celebrated on November 23rd to express gratitude for workers and their contributions. Similarly, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, also known as the “Feast of Tabernacles,” shares similarities with Thanksgiving as it involves expressing gratitude for the harvest.


Thanksgiving is undeniably deeply rooted in American history and culture. It originated as a harvest feast celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and was later declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln. The traditions associated with Thanksgiving, such as the Thanksgiving meal, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and football games, have become ingrained in American society. However, while Thanksgiving is predominantly celebrated in the United States, similar harvest festivals and expressions of gratitude exist in other parts of the world. To answer “Is Thanksgiving an American Holiday?”, we think Thanksgiving may be an American holiday, but its themes of gratitude and togetherness are universal. So, this Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to reflect on the history and significance of this cherished holiday, regardless of where we are in the world.

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