Thanksgiving Index Home Page


Thanksgiving Traditions, a Bountiful Holiday

Thanksgiving Feast

When is Thanksgiving Day? This holiday is observed on the fourth Thursday of November

Tucked between the two monster-sized holidays of Halloween and Christmas is Thanksgiving, which is a monster of a holiday, too. However, it receives far less attention than it should. Thanksgiving is a very important holiday, especially in the busy lives of busy Americans. And, Thanksgiving traditions and history abound. It is a time to slow down, kick back and relax. On this day, we pause to enjoy the four Fs: Family, Food, Fun, and Football. Watch a football game or go to a movie, and enjoy a huge feast, most often with a roasted turkey as the main attraction. It’s also time for us to give thanks to our God, for the things he has bestowed upon us and upon this great nation. No nation in the world has more to be thankful for than us.

The history of Thanksgiving goes back to 1621 when the newly arrived pilgrims sat down with native American Indians to celebrate a bountiful harvest feast. At the time, their meager foothold in the new world was tenuous.

What to do with all of that leftover turkey? Try making Turkey and Dressing. It’s a meal all by itself!

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Day

Turkey Smiling

Planning the Turkey Dinner

There are many Thanksgiving traditions. Among them, the dinner feast is tops. Planning the Thanksgiving dinner begins with knowing how many guests will be at the table.  Importantly, you never want to run out of a traditional food item. And, if you are like my family, you’ll want to have some leftovers, but not so much that it goes to waste. We suggest you err on the high side. Also, if you know the preferences of your guests, you can make a little more or less. For example, stuffing goes quickly at our table. Below is a guideline for how much to make.

Turkey – 1 to 1/2 pounds of turkey per person. 

Stuffing – 1/2 to 3/4 cups per person.

Mashed Potatoes – Plan on 1/2 pound per person.

Vegetables -Green Beans, Corn, Carrots, and Peas – A total of 1 to 1 1/2 servings per person of whatever you make is a good estimate.

Gravy – 1/2 cup of gravy per person is a good estimate. Some people will have more. Some will not have any. 

Cranberry Sauce – Three ounces per person. We recommend you have an additional unopened can of cranberry sauce in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin Pie – A nine-inch pie is usually cut into 6 pieces. However, some folks cut it into 8 slices.

Whipped Cream or Whipped Topping – ONe can or one 

Thanksgiving Traditions and History

The first Thanksgiving was an uncertain time for the Pilgrims. Life for the early settlers was difficult. Successful existence, and even survival in the New World, was not a sure thing. After the Fall harvest, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated between the Pilgrims and the Indians in 1621. That first feast was a three-day affair. The successful fall harvest was a time for celebration. It assured the pilgrims that they would have enough food to last through the long winter in this strange new land.

The early pilgrims were very religious. So, this was also a time of prayer, thanking God for the good crop. The Pilgrims and the Indians created a huge feast, including a wide variety of animals and fowl, as well as fruits and vegetables from the bountiful fall harvest. Undoubtedly, turkeys were cooked during the first Thanksgiving feast, as they were plentiful. This early celebration was the start of today’s Thanksgiving holiday celebration. Like back then, today we celebrate with a huge feast. After the first Thanksgiving, the observance was sporadic and almost forgotten until 1789.

Did you know? Potatoes were not part of the first Thanksgiving. Irish immigrants had not yet brought them to North America. Irish immigrants from Derry were the first to bring potatoes to the New World. These immigrants settled in New Hampshire and planted the first crop. Other settlers came over on Spanish ships and brought potatoes to Virginia and the Carolinas.

Thanksgiving Trivia – Test your knowledge of this wonderful holiday. 

Thanksgiving Pilgrims

Thanksgiving Humor

Did You Know? Turkeys are great weathermen. They forecast the temperature on Thanksgiving Day to be 325° F.

Thanksgiving is the first official U.S holiday

History tells us that 168 years after the Pilgrims and the Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving, the 13 colonies won the Revolutionary War with Great Britain and became an independent nation. The citizens of the fledgling, young United States of America had a lot to celebrate and be thankful for. At the request of both houses of the U.S. Congress, George Washington proclaimed the first official Thanksgiving Day as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer”. The proclamation was made on October 3, 1789, declaring November 26, 1789, as Thanksgiving Day. Then in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress made it a national holiday and set the date as the fourth Thursday in November.

Today, most of us enjoy Turkey with “all the trimmings”. The “trimmings” include a wide variety of foods that are family traditions. Those traditional foods often replicate the foods at the first Thanksgiving feast. While other food items are recipes from traditional, ethnic, or religious groups, or special food items that your family always serves at Thanksgiving dinner. Then after dinner, as if you haven’t already over-indulged, there’s a dessert tray filled with a wide variety of apple and pumpkin desserts. The dessert tray is sure to include pumpkin pies, apple pies, and mince meat pies.

For those who do not like Turkey, roast beef or prime rib is common. Prior to digging in, Thanksgiving traditions in most families include a special prayer of thanks. In many homes, family members will each mention something they are very thankful for.

More About Today

This Day in History

Famous Birthdays

Ecards – Send a free Ecard daily for just about any calendar holiday, occasion, observance, or event. Or, just for the fun of it!

Holiday Insights, where every day is a holiday, a bizarre or wacky day, an observance, or a special event. Join us in the daily calendar fun each and every day of the year.

Did You Know? There are literally thousands of daily holidays, special events, and observances, more than one for every day of the year. Many of these holidays are new. People and organizations are creating new holidays regularly. Consequently, at Holiday Insights, we take great efforts to thoroughly research and document the details of each one, as completely and accurately as possible.

Please Support Our Site. Shop for: