When is Thanksgiving 2017? Right around the corner, so make sure you have your shopping list ready and your sweatpants handy for the big feast.
Even if you’re sad to see the summer go, at least the in-between months that seem to stretch on between the end of your sun and surf time and those cozy winter holiday months have passed. You’re now officially entering the holiday season with Halloween in the rear view mirror.
What day is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is always on the fourth Thursday of November, which is the glorious reason you alway get that Friday off of work. Of course Thanksgiving 2017 is no exception, which means it falls on Thursday, November 23 this year.
How is Thanksgiving celebrated?
So, we’re all familiar with the family feast that happens on Thanksgiving, but our way of celebrating is hardly what was intended when the holiday was created. You’re probably already looking forward to some of the things we all associate with “turkey day,” like the stretchy pants, snacking in front of the football game and that turkey-induced food coma nap you take between dinner and dessert every year — but all of this couldn’t be further from the roots of this day.
What we celebrate seems to be a hybrid of the feast that would happen at the end of harvest season and the first officially declared Thanksgiving Day traditions that date back to George Washington. The later of these was actually designated as a day that should be “devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be” according to Washington’s 1789 proclamation that made it a national holiday. Far removed from the Judeo-Christian religious meaning are our traditions as these religions both include a rejection of gluttony.
Likewise, the Thanksgiving that the pilgrims celebrated in 1623, though partially a feast, started off with a fast. Today, though most of America shirks the pious fasting in favor of the plentiful table, there are some people who call for a return to the fasting if not the religious roots.
The Thanksgiving controversy: What is Unthanksgiving Day?
Thanksgiving, like Columbus Day, is the center of a cultural controversy. Some claim that celebrating the holiday is an unsavory demonstration of political and cultural amnesia about the plight of the Native Americans at the hands of the first settlers in America. That’s the reason why one professor, Robert Jensen of the University of Texas at Austin, suggests replacing “Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.”
Some Native American communities even celebrate an “Unthanksgiving Day” in protest. Instead of feasting, they mourn the deaths of their ancestors, dance, pray and, you guessed it, fast. A ceremony is held every year on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, CA on the day, also referred to as Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony.
Does anywhere else celebrate Thanksgiving?
Most Americans know that Canada has their own Thanksgiving Day, although it falls in October, not November. Their holiday, which falls on the second Monday of October every year, is similar to ours in that the roots go back to the celebration of the harvest and the blessings of the past year.
Grenada also marks a Thanksgiving, which also happens in October. The holiday, which has been held on October 25 for over 30 years, is “a special day to remember how the U.S. military rescued them from a communist takeover and restored constitutional government,” according to The American Legion. They’re referring to the Invasion of Grenada, which took place in 1983 and, ultimately, lead to democratic elections in 1984.
Thanksgiving is also an American tradition imported into the West African nation of Liberia, which marks the holiday on the first Thursday of November every year. The nation was colonized by freed American and Caribbean slaves in the 19th century and, though their descendents make up a small percentage of the current population, many American holidays remain as a result.