Student Perspective

Thanksgiving is a special holiday where people celebrate, giving thanks, prayer, spending time with family, feasting, watching the parades and football games. 

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.   

Chauncy Dean

Chauncy Dean

Thanksgiving was also celebrated nationally in 1789, after a proclamation by George Washington. As a federal and public holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. 

The poor are often provided with food on this day. Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable foods and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners.  Additionally, pegged to be five days after Thanksgiving is Giving Tuesday, a celebration of charitable giving. 

The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in many forms, most notably the attendance of religious services, as well as the saying of a mealtime prayer before dinner. Many houses of worship offer services and events on Thanksgiving themes the weekend before, the day of, or the weekend after Thanksgiving. At home, it is a holiday tradition in many families to begin the dinner by saying grace (a prayer before or after a meal). Before praying, it is a common practice at the dining table for each person to tell one specific reason they're thankful to God that year. 

While grace is said, many families hold hands until the prayer concludes, often indicated with an "Amen." As a result of the size of Thanksgiving dinner, Americans eat more food on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. 

Parades also take place. Since 1924, in New York City, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held annually, and televised nationally by NBC. The float that traditionally ends Macy's Parade is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the Christmas season.

 Also founded in 1924, America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit is one of the largest parades in the country. The parade includes large balloons, marching bands, and various celebrity guests much like the Macy's parade and is nationally televised on various stations.

Football is another event that happens on Thanksgiving Day. American football is an important part of many Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. Professional football games are often held on Thanksgiving Day.

The National Football League has played games on Thanksgiving every year since its creation. The Detroit Lions have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day from 1934 to 1938 and again every year since 1945. 

In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys, who had been founded six years earlier, adopted the practice of hosting Thanksgiving games. A third game was added in prime time by the league in 2006, which aired on the NFL Network, then moved to NBC in 2012. The third game and has no set site or team, allows the opportunity for all teams in the league to possibly host a Thanksgiving game in the future. 

For many college teams, the regular season ends on Thanksgiving weekend, and a team's final game is often against a regional or historic rival, such as the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn, the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State, the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State, and Michigan and Ohio State playing in their rivalry game. 

Consequently, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Thanksgiving is a four-day or five-day weekend vacation for schools and colleges. Most business and government workers are given Thanksgiving and the day after as paid holidays. 

By the way, Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for bars and clubs as many college students and others return home to reunite with friends and family.