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During the second half of the 19th century, Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from region to region. A traditional New England Thanksgiving, for example, consisted of a raffle held on Thanksgiving Eve in which the prizes were mainly geese or turkeys , a shooting match on Thanksgiving morning in which turkeys and chickens were used as targets , church services—and then the traditional feast, which consisted of some familiar Thanksgiving staples such as turkey and pumpkin pie, and some not-so-familiar dishes such as pigeon pie.

The earliest high school football rivalries took root in the late 19th century in Massachusetts, stemming from games played on Thanksgiving; professional football took root as a Thanksgiving staple during the sport's genesis in the s, and the tradition of Thanksgiving football both at the high school and professional level continues to this day.

In New York City, people would dress up in fanciful masks and costumes and roam the streets in merry-making mobs. By the beginning of the 20th century, these mobs had morphed [ citation needed ] into Ragamuffin parades consisting mostly of children dressed as "ragamuffins" in costumes of old and mismatched adult clothes and with deliberately smudged faces, but by the late s the tradition had diminished enough to only exist in its original form in a few communities around New York, with many of its traditions subsumed into the Halloween custom of trick-or-treating.

Abraham Lincoln's successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. But in , President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one.

With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression , Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas.

Stuff Yourself With Thanksgiving Facts and Tasty Trivia

Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression. At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. Fred Lazarus, Jr. Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln.

People began referring to November 30 as the "Republican Thanksgiving" and November 23 as the "Democratic Thanksgiving" or " Franksgiving ". Since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, Roosevelt's change was widely disregarded. Twenty-three states went along with Roosevelt's recommendation, 22 did not, and some, like Texas , could not decide and took both days as government holidays. In and , years in which November had four Thursdays, Roosevelt declared the third one as Thanksgiving. As in , some states went along with the change while others retained the traditional last-Thursday date.

On October 6, , both houses of the U.

Every Day Is Thanksgiving | Psychology Today

Congress passed a joint resolution fixing the traditional last-Thursday date for the holiday beginning in However, in December of that year the Senate passed an amendment to the resolution that split the difference by requiring that Thanksgiving be observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November, which was usually the last Thursday and sometimes two years out of seven, on average the next to last. For several years some states continued to observe the last-Thursday date in years with five November Thursdays the next such year being , with Texas doing so as late as The poor are often provided with food at Thanksgiving time.

Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners. It is continued in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner , traditionally featuring turkey, playing a central role in the celebration of Thanksgiving. In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals. Turkey , usually roasted and stuffed but sometimes deep-fried instead , is typically the featured item on most Thanksgiving feast tables, so much so that Thanksgiving is also colloquially known as "Turkey Day.

Mashed potatoes with gravy , stuffing , sweet potatoes , cranberry sauce , sweet corn , various fall vegetables, squash , Brussels sprouts and pumpkin pie are among the side dishes commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. Green bean casserole was introduced in and remains a favorite. All of these are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived. Turkey may be an exception. In his book Mayflower , Nathaniel Philbrick suggests that the Pilgrims might already have been familiar with turkey in England, even though the bird is native to the Americas.

The Spaniards had brought domesticated turkeys back from Central America in the early 17th century, and the birds soon became popular fare all over Europe, including England, where turkey as an alternative to the traditional goose became a "fixture at English Christmases". As a result of the size of Thanksgiving dinner, Americans eat more food on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.

Thanksgiving was founded as a religious observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose. The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in many forms, most notably the attendance of religious services, as well as the saying of a mealtime prayer before Thanksgiving dinner. Many houses of worship offer worship services and events on Thanksgiving themes the weekend before, the day of, or the weekend after Thanksgiving. Before praying, it is a common practice at the dining table for "each person [to] tell one specific reason they're thankful to God that year.

Joy Fisher, a Baptist writer, states that "this holiday takes on a spiritual emphasis and includes recognition of the source of the blessings they enjoy year round — a loving God.

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Hassaballa, an American Muslim scholar and physician, has written that Thanksgiving "is wholly consistent with Islamic principles" and that "few things are more Islamic than thanking God for His blessings". The parade features parade floats with specific themes, performances from Broadway musicals, large balloons of cartoon characters, TV personalities, and high school marching bands. The float that traditionally ends the Macy's Parade is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the Christmas season.

It is billed as the world's largest parade.


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The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade is the Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day Parade , which launched in and takes place in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. Philadelphia's parade was long associated with Gimbels , a prominent Macy's rival, until that store closed in Founded in , the same year as the Macy's parade, America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit is one of the largest parades in the country. The parade includes large balloons, marching bands, and various celebrity guests much like the Macy's parade and is nationally televised on various affiliate stations.

The Mayor of Detroit closes the parade by giving Santa Claus a key to the city. Most of these parades are televised on a local station, and some have small, usually regional, syndication networks; most also carry the parades via Internet television on the TV stations' websites. In this was switched to the Sunday following the holiday.

American football is an important part of many Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States, a tradition that dates to the earliest era of the sport in the late 19th century. The Detroit Lions have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day from to and again every year since For college football teams that participate in the highest level all teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision , as well as three teams in the historically black Southwestern Athletic Conference of the Championship Subdivision , the regular season ends on Thanksgiving weekend, and a team's final game is often against a regional or historic rival, such as the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn , the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State , the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State , and Michigan and Ohio State playing in their rivalry game.

The lower divisions of the game, including all of Divisions II and III, the NAIA, club football and the rest of the Championship Subdivision except the Ivy League , whose season ends before Thanksgiving [ citation needed ] , are in the midst of playoff tournaments over Thanksgiving weekend. Some high school football games which include some state championship games , and informal "Turkey Bowl" contests played by amateur groups and organizations, are frequently held on Thanksgiving weekend.

Amateur games typically follow less organized backyard-rules , two-hand touch or flag football styles. College basketball holds several elimination tournaments on over Thanksgiving weekend, before the conference season. The National Basketball Association also briefly played on Thanksgiving, albeit in the evening, with a doubleheader airing Thanksgiving night on TNT , a practice that ran from to ; the Atlanta Hawks hosted the early game each year, while the Los Angeles Clippers hosted the late game in both and both of the NBA Thanksgiving games were canceled due to a labor dispute.

Though golf and auto racing are in their off-seasons on Thanksgiving, there are events in those sports that take place on Thanksgiving weekend. In golf, Thanksgiving weekend was the traditional time of the Skins Game from to ; the event was canceled in due to a lack of sponsorship and a difficulty in drawing star talent. The world championship pumpkin chunking contest was held in early November in Delaware and televised each Thanksgiving on Science Channel , but a lawsuit arising from an injury suffered by one of the producers in the event caused the cancellation of the one.

In ice hockey , the National Hockey League announced, as part of its decade-long extension with NBC , that they would begin airing a game on the Friday afternoon following Thanksgiving beginning the —12 NHL season ; the game has since been branded as the "Thanksgiving Showdown".


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  • The Boston Bruins have played matinees on Black Friday since at least , but was the first time the game was nationally televised. Thanksgiving were canceled as a result of a labor dispute in ; as a result of the effective day off, almost all of the league's teams play the day after Thanksgiving. Professional wrestling promotions have typically held premier pay-per-view events on or around the time of Thanksgiving. This trend began in when Jim Crockett Promotions , the largest promoter in the National Wrestling Alliance , introduced Starrcade. Starrcade, later incorporated into World Championship Wrestling , moved off Thanksgiving in ; [89] the year prior, the rival World Wrestling Federation had introduced Survivor Series , an event that continues to be hosted in November to the present day.

    Many American cities hold road running events, known as " turkey trots ", on Thanksgiving morning, so much so that as of [update] , Thanksgiving is the most popular race day in the U.

    While not as prolific as Christmas specials , which usually begin right after Thanksgiving, there are many special television programs transmitted on or around Thanksgiving, such as A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving , in addition to the live parades and football games mentioned above. In some cases, television broadcasters begin programming Christmas films and specials to run on Thanksgiving Day, taking the day as a signal for the beginning of the Christmas season.

    It has since become a tradition on numerous classic rock and classic hits radio stations to play the full, uninterrupted recording to much fanfare each Thanksgiving Day, a tradition that appears to have originated with counterculture radio host Bob Fass , who introduced the song to the public on his radio show.

    Prominent radio host Rush Limbaugh has an annual tradition known as The Real Story of Thanksgiving , in which he gives his interpretation of the Thanksgiving story on his program the day before Thanksgiving.

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    Meaning of Thanksgiving

    Football play-by-play and, in at least one case , parade coverage, is also available on the radio. Since , the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys, in a ceremony known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. John F. Kennedy was the first president reported to spare the turkey given to him he announced he didn't plan to eat the bird , and Ronald Reagan was the first to grant the turkey a presidential pardon , which he jokingly presented to his turkey a turkey that would indeed be spared and sent to a petting zoo.

    THANKSGIVING Poem - GIVE THANKS - by Jamie Harris Coleman (1918)

    There are legends that state that the "pardoning" tradition dates to the Harry Truman administration or even to an anecdote of Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son's pet turkey a Christmas turkey [97] ; both stories have been quoted in more recent presidential speeches, but neither has any evidence in the Presidential record. George H. Bush , who served as vice president under Reagan, made the turkey pardon a permanent annual tradition upon assuming the presidency in , a tradition that has been carried on by every president each year since.

    On Thanksgiving Day, families and friends usually gather for a large meal or dinner. Consequently, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Much like Columbus Day , Thanksgiving is considered by some to be a "national day of mourning", as a celebration of the cultural genocide and conquest of Native Americans by colonists.

    Those who sympathize with this view acknowledge it as a small minority view; author and humanist John G. Rodwan, who does not celebrate Thanksgiving, noted "If you put forth the interpretation Since , the United American Indians of New England , a protest group led by Frank "Wamsutta" James has accused the United States and European settlers of fabricating the Thanksgiving story and of whitewashing a genocide and injustice against Native Americans, and it has led a National Day of Mourning protest on Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the name of social equality and in honor of political prisoners.

    On November 27, , as another notable example of anti-Thanksgiving sentiment, hundreds of supporters traveled to Alcatraz on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the Occupation of Alcatraz which had started a week earlier and lasted until by Native Americans of All Tribes. The American Indian Movement and the Native American Church peyote religion both also hold a negative view of Thanksgiving; the AIM has used it as a platform for protest, most notably when they took over a Mayflower float in a Thanksgiving Day parade.

    The perception of Thanksgiving among Native Americans is not, however, universally negative. He compares Thanksgiving to "wopila", a thanks-giving celebration practiced by Native Americans of the Great Plains. The fact that it is also a national holiday for all Americans blends in perfectly with Native American traditions.

    In the early part of the twentieth century, the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism 4A opposed the celebration of Thanksgiving Day, offering an alternative observance called Blamegiving Day, which was in their eyes, "a protest against Divine negligence, to be observed each year on Thanksgiving Day, on the assumption, for the day only, that God exists.

    The move by retailers to begin holiday sales during Thanksgiving Day as opposed to the traditional day after has been criticized as forcing under threat of being fired low-end retail workers, who compose an increasing share of the nation's workforce, to work odd hours and to handle atypical, unruly crowds on a day reserved for rest. Such retailers typically open at midnight on the day after Thanksgiving to circumvent the laws as much as legally possible. Journalist Edward R. Entitled Harvest of Shame , the hour-long documentary was designed "to shock Americans into action" in regard to the treatment of impoverished migrant workers in the country, hoping to contrast Thanksgiving dinner and its excesses with the poverty of those who picked the vegetables.

    Since being fixed on the fourth Thursday in November by law in , [46] the holiday in the United States can occur on any date from November 22 to When it falls on November 22 or 23, it is not the last Thursday, but the penultimate Thursday in November.