Thanksgiving 2022: What is the history behind the holiday and how do Americans celebrate it?

Thanksgiving 2022: What is the history behind the holiday and how do Americans celebrate it?

Happy Thanksgiving! The holiday marks a time when Americans the world over get together with their families and celebrate a festive occasion.

It's the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family, eat inordinate amounts of food, and indulge in some festive fun.

Having been celebrated (unofficially) for hundreds of years, there's a huge amount of history behind Thanksgiving and the holiday marks a wonderfully enjoyable time of year.

Here's all you need to know about the American holiday and how to celebrate it - even if you’re not American.


When is Thanksgiving?

In 2022, Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 24. It always falls on the fourth Thursday in November.

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is what traditionally kicks off the holiday season in the US. It wasn’t an official holiday until President Franklin D Roosevelt made it so in 1939 and was approved by Congress in 1941.

In America, it's often enjoyed as much as Christmas is, with a focus on family and food - especially turkey.

Why do people celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1621, when refugees from England, known as Pilgrims, invited the local Native American Wampanoag people to a harvest feast after they experienced a successful season of growing food.

The first Thanksgiving probably did not include turkey, but rather a three-day feast of goose, lobster, cod, and deer.

Why do Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

Americans eat more than 50 million turkeys at Thanksgiving and, while there are multiple claims as to why turkeys are used, the most likely would be because turkeys are native to North America and would have been an easy choice for the early settlers.

However, one lucky turkey is given the presidential pardon each year. This year, President Joe Biden will pardon two North Carolina turkeys for Thanksgiving, allowing them to survive rather than end up on a plate.

What else do people generally eat on Thanksgiving?

Turkey, stuffing, and pies are common Thanksgiving favourites, particularly pumpkin, pecan, apple, and sweet potato pies as the traditional desserts.

Why is American football relevant to Thanksgiving?

In 1934, the University of Detroit hosted the first Thanksgiving Day football game between Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears.

The game became the first-ever network broadcast event in the US and was so popular that a Thanksgiving Day football game continues today – and Detroit have played every year since.

Do Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving?

While Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, there are some distinct differences.

Firstly, in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October.

The Canadian Thanksgiving is more associated with European traditions, as festivals of thanks took place throughout the continent in October.

Do Brits celebrate Thanksgiving?

While it is not a national holiday, Brits have Harvest Day, which is the equivalent but it not as widely recognised or celebrated. However, more and more Brits will celebrate Thanksgiving, with American expats living in the UK and American culture becoming widespread.