Thanksgiving Day, U.S. and Canadian holiday. In the U.S. Thanksgiving is modeled on a harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people in 1621. It is intended to celebrate the blessings of the past year. Thanksgiving Day became an official U.S. holiday in 1863, and in 1942 the federal government designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. A traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, cranberries, bread stuffing, and pumpkin pie, among other dishes. Canada traces its Thanksgiving celebration to 1578, and Thanksgiving became a national holiday there in 1879; since 1957 it has been celebrated on the second Monday in October.
Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in October and November in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, and unofficially in countries like Brazil, Germany and the Philippines. It is also observed in the Dutch town of Leiden and the Australian territory of Norfolk Island. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the preceding year. Various similarly named harvest festival holidays occur throughout the world during autumn. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.