Questions related to Thanksgiving, a major public holiday in the United States (observed the fourth Thursday of November) and Canada (observed the second Monday of October).
While various countries recognize a day of thanks, Thanksgiving (French: Action de grâce) usually refers to a major public holiday in the United States and Canada. Visitors should be warned that travel volume is very heavy in each country on the days surrounding their respective celebrations, and the great majority of government offices and private companies are closed for business, many through the weekend.
In the U.S., Thanksgiving Day is set as the fourth Thursday of November. Many non-retail businesses are also closed on the following Friday. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of October (coinciding with Columbus Day and related observances in the U.S.). Thanksgiving is also observed in Liberia, on the first Thursday of November.
Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays of the year, and traditionally a day centered around family, food, and football. As a result, many tourist attractions (including museums) and most retailers (including supermarkets) will be closed or operate limited hours, even in the major cities. In major American cities, there may be a handful of public events such as parades, screenings, or reenactments. Visitors should plan accordingly.
The weekend after American Thanksgiving is a very busy one for tourist attractions, as families try to entertain their out-of-town guests; museums, amusement-parks, and even las-vegas casinos will be very crowded. Notably, the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, has become an observance of its own. Many retailers offer promotions for Black Friday, as it is colloquially known, and heavy crowds come with them. Some people have even been known to camp out overnight to get the best deals. In recent years, however, there has been something of a backlash against the overcommercialization of the weekend, after publicity about stampedes and other ugly behavior caught on video.
Travel volumes surrounding the weekend are heavy, driving up air and road traffic, not to mention airfares and rental car fees. Travelers should be prepared for crowds and heavy congestion on the highways and in the airports on the days surrounding Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving is largely a secular holiday, though with religious foundations as an offering of thanks to God for a bountiful harvest. The precise origins are frequently debated in both countries. In Canada, the most popular story traces the celebration to Martin Frobisher arrival in 1578 after a difficult voyage. In the U.S., it is commonly attributed to the Pilgrim Fathers' first harvest at Plymouth, in 1621, with the assistance of the Wampanoag people.
See Thanksgiving at Wikipedia for additional background.
There are innumerable national and local traditions relating to the holiday; questions should include all appropriate tags. For example, questions about the traditional Thanksgiving dinner— generally based around turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie— should also be tagged as food-and-drink. Questions about the special CFL and NFL games played on Thanksgiving should be tagged as sports-events.