Date and Origin of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dates in 2024, 2025 and 2026

Thanksgiving is observed at the following dates:

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth thursday of november. As the name implies, Thanksgiving is meant to give thanks for the preceding year, specifically for family and food1. Thanksgiving typically kicks off the holiday season.


Thanksgiving has been an annual tradition since 1863 by presidential proclamation and by federal legislation since 1941, though the first official proclamation was made by George Washington in 17892.

The First Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving is usually attributed to the feast held by Pilgrims and Wampanoag native americans in 16213. In order to understand the significance of the first Thanksgiving, it is necessary to realize that the pilgrims first landed on the Massachusetts coast with 98 people at the beginning of winter with little food, no shelter and sparse knowledge of the land on November 19, 1620, after many months at sea. By the following November, only 53 remained45.

Meeting the Wampanoags

The infamous “First Encounter” with native americans happened on December 18, 1620, when a small company of pilgrims, sent as scouts, were attacked by Wampanoags6. A few years earlier, Englishmen had landed in the same area, capturing many Patuxet native americans and selling them into slavery6. It was for this reason that the natives did not help the colonists throughout the first winter.


On March 16, Samoset, and Algonquin Sagamore native, walked into the company of pilgrims building houses and introduced himself in English6. He introduced the pilgrims to the last Patuxet, Squanto, who spoke English well enough to serve as an interpreter for the pilgrims. Squanto is credited with teaching the pilgrims to fish, hunt and farm local vegetables, which likely saved them from certain death6. He also introduced them to Massassoit, a high leader of the Wampanoags6. Because of this, a treaty of friendship was signed, fostering a peaceful relationship between the pilgrims and the natives

The Feast

In celebration of surviving the first year, the pilgrims invited the locals to a feast celebrating the harvest, lasting several days6. During this feast, pilgrims and Wampanoags alike prayed, ate and celebrated their mutual friendship.


Today, Thanksgiving is a mostly secular holiday where family or friends get together and share in a feast that always includes Turkey as well as other seasonal dishes, including squash, various pies, stuffing and cranberry sauce among others. Some other traditions include the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thanksgiving day football and a presidential pardonning of a turkey7.