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6 Quick Facts About Thanksgiving

What is Thanksgiving?

In 1621, Plymouth colonists travelled from Great Britain to a new life in America. Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast that they had laboured together with the colonists to produce, marking what would become the first ever Thanksgiving celebration.  Since then, people in the United States, Canada and a handful of other countries around the world have celebrated Thanksgiving every year - for the blessings of the year, including the Harvest. It is one of their most important annual holidays.

When is Thanksgiving celebrated in the USA?

In the United States, Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on the fourth Thursday in November since 1941, so in 2021 Thanksgiving falls on 25th November. 

How is Thanksgiving celebrated?

On Thanksgiving Day, it is common for Americans to share a family meal, attend church services, maybe watch a Thanksgiving Parade and view special sporting events.  Another tradition sees the President “pardoning” a live Thanksgiving turkey every year by sending them to a farm to live out the rest of their days instead of being sent to slaughter!

What Americans call the ‘Holiday Season’ starts with Thanksgiving and goes on until the New Year. Here’s everything you need to know about the celebration, and in particular, the traditional celebratory food eaten on this important day.

What food is eaten for Thanksgiving in the USA?

In the UK, the idea of having an enormous Christmas Day style feast a month before Christmas may feel a bit much, but for many Americans it is the more important holiday.  Food plays a central role in Thanksgiving. Getting home to share the Thanksgiving meal with family or friends is essential to the day. Thanksgiving dinner is usually served in the afternoon and the star of the Thanksgiving meal is turkey, which is either roasted in the oven or deep fried.  After that, every region and every family have their own traditions as far as the long list of side dishes is concerned.

In the South, Thanksgiving would not be complete without corn pudding and bacon-infused Brussels sprouts. Midwesterners love their green bean casserole, and in New England table is complete without Parker House rolls (a bread bun to mop up gravy). Beyond the regional divide, some people will pile their plate with candied yams and glazed carrots while the person sitting next to them will prefer to include a good portion of macaroni and cheese on their plate.  The result is that the person cooking the meal will often have to produce a table groaning with food to keep everyone happy!  These side dishes can include:

  • Corn or corn pudding
  • Glazed carrots
  • Yams
  • Creamed spinach
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Sweet Potato casserole (sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top – a dish generally too sweet for anyone not raised in this tradition!)
  • Green bean casserole -salty and creamy with crispy little onions, cooked from scratch or heated from a can.
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Bread rolls
  • Mac n’ Cheese
  • Bread stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes

What are the most popular Thanksgiving pies?

Apple pie is the most popular dessert followed by Pumpkin Pie.


Where can I find a Thanksgiving Dinner in the UK?

A number of highly rated hotels in London and across the UK offer the chance to experience traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Google to find a hotel or restaurant near you.

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