How Is the Date for Thanksgiving Calculated?

In the United States, Thanksgiving Day always takes place on the fourth Thursday in November. In 2015, Thanksgiving occurred on November 26th, while in 2016 it falls on November 24th. In 2017, Thanksgiving falls on November 23rd.

There is some debate as to the origin of Thanksgiving, with some claiming that the first Thanksgiving celebration took place in El Paso, Texas, in 1598, while others point to a similar event in the Virginia Colony in 1619. Still, most point to the Pilgrims' harvest celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621as the origin of the modern Thanksgiving Day holiday.

This celebration was a three-day event, which 53 colonists and 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe attended. During the feast, the attendees ate a variety of foods, such as swan, duck, goose, pumpkin and shellfish. They also had five deer that the Wampanoag contributed. In some of the subsequent years, special church services marked the occasion rather than feasts.

Thanksgiving Day became an official holiday in the United States in 1863, although President George Washington actually proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789. As of 2015, Americans consume more than 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day, with approximately 88 percent of all families eating turkey for their holiday meal.