By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans overwhelmed by crowded highways and the prospect of cooking a turkey and all the trimmings for the Thanksgiving holiday dinner are turning for relief to the latest social-media driven holiday - Friendsgiving.
From low-key gatherings of college buddies ahead of a holiday meal with family to intricately choreographed potlucks on Thanksgiving Day proper, celebrated this year on Nov. 23, Americans are sharing ways to avoid the stress of family gatherings.
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"Forever putting the fun in dysfunctional ... Happy #Friendsgiving," Providence, Rhode Island radio host Bekah Berger said on Twitter.
The number of people discussing Friendsgiving on social media sites including Twitter and Instagram has quadrupled this year compared with 2016, according to a review by social media analytics company Brandwatch.
The word "fun" appeared four times as often in tweets that mentioned Friendsgiving as it did in those about Thanksgiving, the review found.
"People expressed how 'annoying' the holiday can be, with family and cooking emerging as common causes of contention," Brandwatch said in its analysis. "Negative emotions such as frustration and exhaustion were more prevalent within Thanksgiving conversations."
By contrast, many tweets about Friendsgiving echoed those of actor Israel Broussard, who after his celebration wrote: "feeling so so fat right now #friendsgiving."
Some Friendsgiving fans turned their events into charity fundraisers, including social media marketing specialist Amanda Hite, who said: "Last night we hosted a #Friendsgiving gathered with some of our favorite people and raised $3,800 for @nokidhungry."
Stationery retailer Paper Source, which sells Friendsgiving invitations, sang the holiday's praises in a blog: "Is there a better holiday than Friendsgiving? Friends, food, and let's face it, a drink or two make this unofficial holiday one that we most look forward to every year."
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg, additional reporting by Angela Moon, editing by G Crosse)