Thanksgiving Day

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a national holiday celebrated as a day of feasting and giving thanks for divine favors or goodness, observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the U.S. and in Canada on the second Monday of October.
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Origin of Thanksgiving Day

An Americanism dating back to 1665–75
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does Thanksgiving Day mean?

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada that is traditionally observed with family gatherings and large meals.

It’s commonly just called Thanksgiving. It is observed in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of November, and in Canada on the second Monday of October.

Today, observation of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. is traditionally centered around a large meal, especially one that includes a roast turkey. Other traditional Thanksgiving dishes include mashed potatoes, stuffing or dressing, and pumpkin pie. The association with eating turkey has led to the informal nickname Turkey Day.

The word thanksgiving means the act of expressing or feeling thankfulness. In other words, it’s the act of giving thanks for what you’re grateful for.

Example: My family has a tradition of going on a leisurely hike on Thanksgiving Day to spend some time outdoors before the big meal.

Where does Thanksgiving Day come from?

The first records of the term Thanksgiving Day come from around the 1670s. The word Thanksgiving has been used as the name of a holiday since earlier in the 1600s. The word Day is used in the same way in the names of other holidays, such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The history of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. is often traced back to the 1621 harvest meal that is believed to have been attended by Pilgrim colonists in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, and members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Native Americans. While historians do believe that the two groups were in fact present together at that time, many of the details surrounding their relations and the nature of the meeting have been mythologized. There is certainly no evidence that the event was seen as the start of a holiday tradition at the time.

The first official national Thanksgiving holiday was set by President George Washington in 1789, but it was a one-time event. It wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving Day was officially declared as an annual national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln. But the holiday was not connected to the history of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag until later. The holiday remained on the fourth Thursday of November until 1939, when it was moved to the third Thursday of November. It went back to being on the fourth Thursday in 1942.

Thanksgiving became an annual national holiday in Canada in 1879 and was set as the second Monday in October in 1957. Earlier celebrations of Thanksgiving in Canada were inspired by the U.S. holiday.

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What are some synonyms for Thanksgiving Day?

What are some words that share a root or word element with Thanksgiving Day

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How is Thanksgiving Day used in real life?

Thanksgiving Day is associated with family gatherings centered around a large meal. Other Thanksgiving traditions in the U.S. include parades, football, and arguments between extended family members.



Try using Thanksgiving Day!

True or False? 

When the Pilgrim colonists met with members of the Wampanoag Tribe in 1621, they called the event Thanksgiving Day.

How to use Thanksgiving Day in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day

an annual day of holiday celebrated in thanksgiving to God on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and on the second Monday of October in CanadaOften shortened to: Thanksgiving
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012