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U.S. holiday. It originated in the autumn of 1621 when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited neighbouring Indians to join the Pilgrims for a three-day festival of recreation and feasting in gratitude for the bounty of the season, which had been partly enabled by the Indians' advice. Neither the standard Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie nor the family orientation of the day reflects the Plymouth event, however. Proclaimed a national holiday in 1863, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November (though it was moved back one week in 1939–41 to extend the Christmas shopping season). Canada adopted Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1879; since 1957 it has been celebrated on the second Monday in October.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Thanksgiving Day, visit Britannica.com.