Every autumn, Canadian and American families gather for a day centred around community, food and giving thanks – the day of Thanksgiving. Where did this holiday come from and how is it celebrated today?

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


The history of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving combines the traditions of different groups of people. Travellers and migrants brought different religious traditions from Europe to the United States and Canada. Several celebrations are claimed as the first Thanksgiving. The best known is the celebration held by the pilgrims in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts after their journey across the Atlantic Ocean on the famous Mayflower ship. Like the pilgrims, many groups held days of prayer, fasting or feasting to give thanks for successfully making the long boat journey. Later, settlers celebrated their successful harvest in a new land by holding feasts with their Native American neighbours. Over time, the Canadian and American traditions have become similar and developed into the modern holiday of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving today

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. In the United States, it is on the fourth Thursday in November. Although its origins are religious, today, Thanksgiving is a largely secular holiday. For most Americans and Canadians, it is a day for coming together with family and friends to share a large meal. It is an occasion to spend time with loved ones and express gratitude for the year that has passed. In many households there is a tradition of everyone seated at the table sharing what they are most grateful for.

Thanksgiving food

Thanksgiving is also about food. Thanksgiving dinner traditionally includes roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and, for dessert, apple, pumpkin or pecan pies. Every family has its own recipes, sometimes secret recipes handed down through generations. Turkey, a bird native to North America, is the unofficial mascot of Thanksgiving, with roast turkey on the menu and turkey decorations on the wall. In the United States, a tradition of gifting turkeys to the President has more recently evolved into a humorous turkey ‘pardoning’. At this light-hearted ceremony, the President issues an official pardon for one or two turkeys, saving them from being cooked for supper.

More than food: football, parades and traffic jams!

Beyond food and gratitude, there are some unexpected sides to the American and Canadian holiday. One of these is football. This popular sport is an important part of the holiday, when families gather around to cheer on local or national teams. American football and Canadian football are both similar to rugby, played primarily not with the feet but with the hands.

Parades are another common part of the festivities. In the United States, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in New York City on the morning of Thanksgiving. It’s one of the world’s largest parades and is broadcast nationwide. A similar Thanksgiving parade happens in Canada as part of the Kitchener–Waterloo Oktoberfest, a multi-day autumn festival.

Unfortunately, heavy traffic is also common at Thanksgiving. In both countries, the week of Thanksgiving is one of the most popular travel times of the year, as everyone heads home to visit their extended family. So try to avoid any road trips if you’re visiting North America during this holiday!

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Submitted by LuisFrancisco on Mon, 27/11/2023 - 00:08


I'm from Mexico, We love celebrating with all our family every time we have the opportunity, Most Mexican families celebrate the Christmas Eve, Christmas in general, and "posadas" (Parties before Christmas).
Festivities are a little bit different here because we love spending time dancing, the food is way different than in the United States, we have large meals of Mexican gastronomy, and we love "piñatas", there is no party without piñata at all and all the parties end up with an exchange of gifts and giving a bag of goodies.

Submitted by mubbashir Ali on Wed, 05/07/2023 - 08:40


Thanksgiving is a grate festival. It must should celebrate in each community. I'm M. Ali from Pakistan. It is good way to raise love and respect to each other heart

Submitted by je_presume on Fri, 25/11/2022 - 07:10


I am Canadian, from Quebec. We celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

I am Maria from Spain.
Here we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving day but we do a similar celebration in Christmas.
Thank you for sharing!

Submitted by mjang on Sun, 09/10/2022 - 19:30


It was good for me to know about Thanksgiving Day.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Fri, 06/05/2022 - 12:28


When do families gather to have a feast in your country?

In my country, we gather during the dashers festival. we all are going outside with other people for the celebration of this festival. after dashers we eat food together at night and love together.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Wed, 30/12/2020 - 09:15

So excited to read! Fantastic! In my country, most families gather in Thadinkyut holidays.These holidays are so cheerful.
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Submitted by danisep on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 19:50

Sometimes, the mothers day or when family that lives abroad comes, but is more common in Christmas eve or December 31st. and we have blend from American and own customs sometimes we cook Turkey with a special bread and hayacas that’s a typical food from here or buñuelos, natilla and other type of food.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Thu, 19/11/2020 - 17:50

Families gather to have a feast in my country and - I think - in all countries where there are Christian people, around Christmas time, especially in Christmas Eve, when families prepare a big dinner and, after that, all people go to the midnight Solemn Mass for celebrating Jesus' birth. We have a proverb: "Christmas with your family, Easter with whom you want".