Thanksgiving Customs and Tradition, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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American Community

Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday in November) is a major national holiday. Schools are usually closed this day and the Friday after, creating a four-day weekend during which college students often come home to be with their families. Thanksgiving is associated with the “Pilgrim Fathers,” early settlers to Massachusetts who in 1621 gave God their thanks for having survived a hard winter (traditionally with the help of the local Indians).

On Thanksgiving Day, families re-unite for large dinners. The traditional meal is turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. On Thanksgiving day, many Americans will eat until they are totally incapacitated. Informally, many people call Thanksgiving “Turkey Day.”

Thanksgiving also has a commercial side. Most retail stores start their Christmas selling season the day after Thanksgiving by having one-day sales; this day is unofficially called “Black Friday.” On Black Friday in 2008, to give an example of the frenzy these shopping opportunities generate, a Wal-Mart employee in Valley Stream, New York was crushed to death as excited shoppers pushed open the doors in the early hours of the morning and a mob rushed into the store.

Many communities and department stores, particularly the massive Macy's store in New York, hold parades on Thanksgiving.

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