The people of Singapore celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in America: Your first "Turkey Day" in the USA

Published on November 21, 2019

At the end of November, the starting signal for the "holiday season" will be given in the USA and a special time of your year abroad will begin: Your first Thanksgiving in America is coming up. You will probably finally get to know the "extended family" of your host family, you will be surrounded by pumpkins in all variations and you are looking forward to the big feast! But why is Thanksgiving celebrated at all? And what exactly can you expect on so-called "Turkey Day"? Here are the answers!

A day with tradition

In many countries around the world, harvest festivals are celebrated in autumn. However, the holiday is the largest in the USA. Here it goes back to the early days of the country when the Pilgrim Fathers founded the first colonies in New England. After a first harsh winter in the New World, they received help and support from the Native Americans who lived there. These showed the newcomers how to grow native plants such as maize and resulted in an abundant harvest. Out of gratitude, they celebrated a great festival together in Plymouth in 1621, which soon became a firm tradition.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln officially declared Thanksgiving Day Thanksgiving. Almost 80 years later, in 1941, it finally became a national holiday. Every year on the fourth Thursday in November, American families celebrate Thanksgiving with a large feast. There is also the traditional turkey (with stuffing and gravy!) And other Thanksgiving classics.

Typical dishes on Thanksgiving:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • green beans with cream (green been casserole)
  • Carrots (often gratinated with marshmallows)
  • Pie (especially pumpkin pie)

Usually everyone eats so much and so long that absolutely nothing fits in the stomach. Since the Americans usually prepare very large quantities, you can look forward to the leftover food, the so-called "leftovers", the day after.

Thanksgiving in America: shopping and watching TV

Thanksgiving is not just a celebration of gratitude and humility. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving weekend also has a very strong commercial character. The big Christmas shopping season begins immediately after Thanksgiving (or often on the same day) for retailers. On the so-called "Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving, the shops offer extremely high discounts. Queuing up before midnight to grab the best bargains? This is not uncommon in the US. On the following Monday, the big online business follows with “Cyber ​​Monday”.

If you don't feel like shopping at all, you can make yourself comfortable on the sofa. In many families it is a tradition to sit in front of the TV in the morning and watch the famous Macy’s Thankgiving Day Parade from New York live. This street parade - one of the largest in the world - has been organized by the American department store chain Macy’s since 1924. Floats with chapels and giant balloon figures filled with helium then move through Manhattan.

Football games are also part of the typical entertainment program on Thanksgiving in America. The popular sport, whose season starts in autumn, runs well on almost every TV. You have no idea about football yet? So that you don't get terribly bored in your host family's home on Thanksgiving, you should read our All-American Sports Guide on football!

Would you like to experience Thanksgiving in the USA one day? Then find out more about a student exchange in the USA now. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.+49 30 84 39 39 93 to disposal. Or just write to us[email protected]! We look forward to hearing from you!