Celebrating Thanksgiving in the USA

Celebrating Thanksgiving in the USA

Celebrating Thanksgiving in the USA is a major tradition for the American people. It is also an event that Chinese travelers visiting with an EVUS should plan around carefully when touring the United States in the final week of November.

Thanksgiving is one of the major Federal holidays that takes place throughout the year. It is one of the most important annual celebrations for American families both nationally and internationally.

This article examines the key features of this famous national holiday in the US. It explains:

  • The tradition of Thanksgiving
  • When Thanksgiving’s Day is celebrated
  • How Americans celebrate thanksgiving
  • Where the biggest festivities occur

What Does Thanksgiving Celebrate?

Thanksgiving commemorates the first successful harvest of the early pilgrim settlers from England in October 1621. To mark the significant historical moment the native Americans and the newly arrived pilgrims farmers sat down to celebrate with a feast to give thanks.

Since becoming a national holiday in 1863 under President Abraham Lincoln, the festival has become an opportunity for family and friends to reunite and enjoy homecooked food together. Today, Americans use the day to give thanks for all the good things that have happened to them and those closest to them throughout the year.

When is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving Day is held on the fourth Thursday of November, always falling on a day between November 22nd and 28th depending on the year. It is a Federal holiday for all 50 states and makes up part of a four day weekend for many Americans.

On this day, most public and federal businesses close for around 24 hours. Some amenities such as supermarkets and fast-food restaurants do open on Thanksgiving but usually with a revised, shorter opening schedule.

The week preceding the holiday itself is also one of the busiest weeks in terms of air, road, and rail transport. During this time millions of Americans make the long journey back to their home state and town to see family and friends.

Upcoming Thanksgiving Celebration Dates 2020 - 2025
Year Date
2020 November 26th
2021 November 25th
2022 November 24th
2023 November 23rd
2024 November 28th
2025 November 27th

What Happens on Thanksgiving in the USA?

The people of the USA celebrate Thanksgiving in many different ways. However, the most important tradition is the gathering of friends and family.

Citizens travel thousands of miles in order to sit down to dinner with the most important people in their lives. In the spirit of the original Thanksgiving when the pilgrims prepared a feast of cuisine found in the then “new world”, Americans enjoy a hearty meal of delicious homecooked food with their nearest and dearest.

Turkey is nearly always on the menu in some form or another (or Tofurkey for vegetarians). In fact, Thanksgiving is quite often colloquially called “Turkey Day” due to the popularity of the dish. The menu will often vary slightly based on family traditions and customs. The most common food enjoyed on Thanksgiving includes:

  • Roast turkey
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy
  • Corn
  • Stuffing*
  • Candied Yams
  • Green bean casserole
  • Pecan pie
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Creamed corn

*A filling for the roast turkey made of bread and herbs or sausagemeat.

Aside from the food and family gatherings, Americans spend the day relaxing and enjoying other Thanksgiving day traditions. Some of these include watching American football and other sports events on the day, viewing the President’s annual Turkey pardon, or attending a Thanksgiving parade.

Where Do The Biggest Thanksgiving Celebrations Happen?

Different parts of the country celebrate Thanksgiving in their own unique ways, although the core traditions of Turkey dinners and family are always upheld. However, visitors are also likely to discover local festivities occurring which could add an extra special touch to their trip.

Parades celebrating Thanksgiving are common across the biggest US cities, with thousands watching from the streets and millions viewing from their television sets. The biggest parades are held in:

  • New York, New York
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Houston, Texas
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Seattle, Washington

How is Black Friday Connected to Thanksgiving?

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. It is not a federal holiday, although many Americans will have this day off too.

This relatively new celebration is an event known and loved by shoppers. Stores, supermarkets, and malls across the US offer some of the best discounts and price drops throughout the year.

However, these are extremely limited deals and once the bargain stock is sold the offer is over. American shoppers will often camp outside stores overnight in order not to miss out on the best deals.

Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year to see a truly American event. Whilst it can be a tricky time to travel the country in, it’s a warm and heartening festival that you’ll only see in the USA on this scale.

Chinese nationals visiting the USA with a B1/B2 tourist visa must make sure they have registered their documents with EVUS before arrival. To get an EVUS, applicants must fill in a simple online application form which can be completed in just a few minutes.

If the EVUS form has been successfully filled and approved, confirmation is sent in under 24 hours directly to the user’s personal email address. The visitor may then enter the United States safely and securely.

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