Learn everything you need to know about the American celebration of Thanksgiving day. This annual holiday is an occasion used to gather with family, express gratitude and celebrate the autumn harvest with a hearty feast.

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Discover what to serve at a traditional Thanksgiving with our best Thanksgiving recipes and menu ideas.

And for even more ideas, see our ultimate collection of Thanksgiving recipes. For shopping inspiration, see our Black Friday hub.

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is an annual American holiday celebrated in November. Friends and family gather for a large celebration feast and give thanks for the year's bounty.

Historically, the origins of Thanksgiving date back to 1621 when the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth, Massachusetts, shared a harvest feast with the native Wampanoag people.

In present day, the holiday is celebrated with a large turkey dinner, American football, parades, and volunteering. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday and usually has large commercial sales and shopping for the Christmas season.

Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Canada in October, originating back to the colonial period.

When is Thanksgiving?

In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, with few exceptions. In 2022, Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Thursday, 24 November.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated. After a joint resolution of Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1942 designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

When is Canadian Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October since 1957. In 2022, Thanksgiving will be celebrated in Canada on Monday, 10 October.

Parliament first established a national Thanksgiving Day in 1879.

What is the meaning of Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is celebrated as a means of giving thanks for family, friends, food, health and other positivities. Some families incorporate religion by giving thanks in prayer, but Thanksgiving is a federal holiday and celebrated nationwide.

In modern times, the holiday has come to symbolise gratitude, peace and celebrating blessings.

What food is eaten for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving menus are quite traditional but differ due to regional and cultural differences. The most typical Thanksgiving dinner features a large roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Turkey

Thanksgiving turkey

A large roasted turkey tends to be the centrepiece of choice at a Thanksgiving dinner, so much so that the holiday is nicknamed 'turkey day'. Cranberry sauce is typically served to accompany the meal, either canned or homemade.

See our easy Thanksgiving turkey or more turkey recipe ideas.

Potatoes

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a staple Thanksgiving dish to accompany the roast turkey with gravy on top. Alternatives include creamy scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole and yams.

Try our classic mashed potatoes and see our ultimate collection of potato recipes.

Stuffing and sides

Thanksgiving Stuffing

American stuffing, or dressing, tends to be made with chunks of bread and baked in a roasting dish. See our classic Thanksgiving stuffing or our stuffing collection for more.

Other popular side dishes include green bean casserole and macaroni and cheese.

Find more ideas with our Thanksgiving side dish recipes.

Pie and dessert

Pecan pie on a plate cut into two pieces

Hearty autumn flavours are the dessert of choice at a Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkin, apple and pecan pie are all Thanksgiving classics sure to make an appearance.

Other desserts include cheesecake and cakes.

See more Thanksgiving dessert ideas.

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