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Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays in American culture. It is based on the traditional English harvest celebration and is recognized as an annual holiday held on the fourth Thursday of each November.

The Pilgrims and Puritans who settled the New England area held days of thanks, but not as a routine event on a set day. These thanks giving events may have also been held more than once in a particular year.

In the United States, 1621 is most commonly associated with the beginning of the Thanksgiving tradition. That year, the pilgrims of the Massachusetts Bay colony held a feast and invited Wamapanoag Indians to help celebrate an abundant harvest of their crops.

Thanksgiving was declared by local church leaders or politicians until 1623 when William Bradford, the governor of Massachusetts, planned an elaborate Thanksgiving celebration that lasted three days.

Many historians credit the Bradford celebration as the forerunner of how modern Thanksgiving is observed, although it wasn't until the 1660's that the practice of celebrating Thanksgiving on a regular basis took hold in New England.

The Continental Congress declared a national day of thanks in 1777. Afterwards, each state celebrated Thanksgiving on their own terms as individual events.

In November of 1789, President George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving celebration "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God."

It wasn't until 1863, during the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation that Thanksgiving would be held annually in November. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.

Thanksgiving conjures up images of food, family, friends, and fun. It is the one time of year that people get together and visit loved ones, eat and drink, and share their abundance with others. Many people travel long distances to be with family and friends during the Thanksgiving holidays making it the busiest travel period of the year.

Over 80 percent of Americans say they stuff themselves on turkey and dressing, ham, string beans, yams, mashed potatoes, fruits and vegetables, salads, corn bread, biscuits, cranberry sauce, casseroles, and even macaroni and cheese.

The indulge on the many desserts and other sweet treats that are prepared for this day such pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan, banana, and many other types of pies and puddings. Cakes include chocolate, coconut, pineapple, watergate, lemon, and pound cakes.

On Thanksgiving Day, there is no shame in eating and letting go of your inhibitions. Along with the consumption of food, there are parades, football and basketball games, movies, and lots of television.

Over the years, Thanksgiving has grown into a powerhouse holiday as part of the holiday season in the United States that include Halloween, Veterans Day, Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Years Day. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, has also grown as a recognized part of the holiday season.

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