Thanksgiving – a day of expression of gratitude for the blessings of the year – is Thursday, November 24th.
The history of Thanksgiving dates back to the 17th century when the Pilgrims colony of Plymouth, Mass., held a harvest celebration. Not much is known of the first celebration, as only two firsthand accounts exist – one by William Bradford and the second by Edward Winslow.
About 50 pilgrims attended the first Thanksgiving, about half of the 103 original colonists who left England aboard the Mayflower. Disease and starvation and the harsh conditions of the New World claimed the rest. The pilgrims were joined by about 100 members of the Wampanoag tribe, including a man named Squanto, who spoke English and served as a translator.
The exact date of the first celebration is not known, but it is believed to have taken place sometime between September and November 1621. Dishes likely included poultry and deer, along with other locally sourced foods such as clams, lobster, grapes, and corn. Turkey, the modern staple on most Thanksgiving tables, arrived much later, historians believe.
The name Thanksgiving did not officially appear until 1623, then only as a day of prayer and fasting. The Harvest Festival and Thanksgiving events both existed separately until they merged in the late 17th century.
In 1789, President George Washington established the holiday as the last Thursday in November. Then, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a presidential proclamation designating the last Thursday in November as a day to be observed by all states, both North and South. Lincoln was encouraged to make Thanksgiving a national holiday by author Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, best known for writing Mary Had a Little Lamb. Lincoln’s proclamation, however, came in the middle of the Civil War, so Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated nationally until after Reconstruction ended in the 1870s.
Lincoln’s choice of Thursday appears to date back to the Continental Congress declaring Thursday, December 18, 1777, the first national Thanksgiving day. The day remained the last Thursday in November for almost 80 years.
On December 26, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a joint congressional resolution changing the official day of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. The day was shifted to allow more time for shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
READ MORE: Which stores are closed on Thanksgiving? Black Friday ads, opening times
Here’s a look at what’s open and what’s closed on Thanksgiving 2022:
federal offices – Closed. Thanksgiving is a federal holiday, the 10th of 11 of the year. Christmas is the last national holiday of the year.
State Offices – Closed
municipal and county offices – Closed
US Post Office – Closed. Mail doesn’t run on Thanksgiving.
financial markets – NYSE and Nasdaq will be closed
stores – Drug stores and pharmacies (CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens) are open, but hours may vary. Some grocery stores will be open, but find out beforehand.
Walmart and Target – Closed, reopening for Black Friday.
Shopping centers – Most are closed, individual shops can open
UPS – No UPS pickup or delivery service; Critical service is available.
FedEx – Closed