10 Thanksgiving Day
Traditions Across the USA

Expert Thanksgiving Pies Pumpkin Leaves

Holiday Traditions in the States for Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is one of the USA's most widely celebrated holidays. Every year, on the fourth Thursday in November, most businesses close for the day, and people travel near and far to be with their friends and families. The day starts for some with a grand parade and others with a fun morning run. There's a big meal, and people gather together to eat and celebrate no matter what's on the menu. To some, the day kicks off the holiday season, and to others - the shopping season! Here's a look at 10 Thanksgiving Day holiday traditions across the States. 

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Holiday Travel to See Family & Friends

The "Thanksgiving Day Weekend" is from the fourth Thursday in November to the following Monday. People often take the four-day weekend to travel farther and spend more time with family and friends. In some groups, attending more than one Thanksgiving celebration is normal. There's a newer trend of Friendsgiving, where primarily friends gather together to celebrate. Those who don't travel might join friends' or coworkers' Thanksgiving meal celebrations. 

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Watch a Thanksgiving Day Parade

The most famous parade in the USA is Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, on Thanksgiving morning, the streets of Manhattan fill with onlookers, performers, television crews, and fantastic floats as giant balloons bob in the air overhead between skyscrapers. You can celebrate by watching it in person if you're in New York, or you can catch it on TV. If you're on the west coast, get up early to see the spectacle!

Participate in a Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving morning since the 1980s, Turkey Trots have been a trend in the USA. Runners, walkers, and their supporters wake up early to participate in locally-run fun runs called "Turkey Trots." People often dress in funny costumes and can run or walk everything from a mile to a 10k. The proceeds from the event most often go to charities. 

Expert Thanksgiving Food Family Woman Meal Plate Dinner

Eat a Thanksgiving Meal Together

Even if the Thanksgiving menu isn't exactly the same on tables across the states, the celebration of a meal together tends to remain the same. The holiday, at its core, is a meal shared with family and friends. The meal is typically served family-style or buffet, and there's often the main dish (turkey, goose, crabcakes!) paired with several side dishes. 

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Leave Room for Dessert

An estimated 50 million pumpkin pies are devoured every November in the States. The autumnal dessert, often topped with whipped cream, is a staple at most Thanksgiving tables. However, according to the American Pie Council, apple pie is actually more popular than pumpkin among Americans! You'll also find cranberry, pecan, chocolate, and orange in starring roles as desserts for the holiday. 

Give a Round of Thanks

Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks! At some Thanksgiving celebrations, it's tradition to go around the group and share thanks or toast to gratitude during the meal or dessert. The day offers the perfect time to look back at the past year and celebrate what you're thankful for with family and friends. 

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Shop Black Friday Sales

As Thanksgiving Day marks the start of the holiday season, it also means holiday shopping and, moreover, holiday sales. Because of this, the day after Thanksgiving in America is known as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Some Black Friday sales start early, and often brick-and-mortar stores open before dawn the day of and stay open late into the night. People wait all year for the sale, and some even spend the night of Thanksgiving in line outside their favorite stores, hoping to be among the first to get the items on sale. Black Friday sales often offer the best discounts and lowest prices of the year on those big purchase items, so they can be worth the wait.


Donating time to your community can be a meaningful way to spend time on Thanksgiving Day. Local food banks often need volunteers for hosted meals. Delivering food to those who can't travel with Meals on Wheels is a great way to spread some holiday cheer. Some families spend time together outdoors cleaning up local parks or with shelter animals, ensuring they have a nice day too. There are lots of opportunities to celebrate and give thanks by giving back.

Expert Thanksgiving Football American Team Watch

Watch a Football Game

American football is almost as ingrained in the Thanksgiving holiday as serving a turkey is! Some families gather together to watch an NFL game or two, some attend live high school or college games, and some leave games running on the tv in the background all day. Some families have a tradition of playing a game outside together or tossing a ball around between snacks and games. 

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Start the Christmas Season

Picking out a Christmas tree together and decorating for the season is a tradition for many families the day or weekend after Thanksgiving. When it comes to trees, some people shop for one, some people go chop one down. Some people have a tree in their yard to decorate together. There are even trees you can have delivered and return to replant! This is often the weekend outdoor Christmas lights and decorations go out. Some consider it the start of the Christmas season altogether!

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