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Cultural events are listed here with basic background details. For specific events, dates, and times, please see the Featured Events on the Cultural Calendar main page.




Thanksgiving Day is an annual holiday observed in the United States of America. The origin of the holiday lies in the colonial era but it was not celebrated as a national holiday until a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 during the American Civil War. In 1942 during the Second World War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decreed a shift from the fixed date of 26th of November to the fourth Thursday in November. 

Thanksgiving Day is generally celebrated with families and friends gathering for a meal, traditionally including roast turkey with stuffing and gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  

As a federal holiday, most schools, universities, businesses, and non-essential governmental offices are closed for Thanksgiving Day.  

The day following Thanksgiving Day is known as Black Friday and is also a public holiday in many states. It is considered to be the start of the Christmas shopping season and many retailers will mark the day with increased opening hours, highly promoted sales, and heavily discounted prices. The origin of the term Black Friday is contested but may refer to retailers being able to record profits in black ink and no longer be “in the red”.  

In the United States, the “First Thanksgiving” is generally considered to be the harvest feast which took place at the newly established Plymouth Colony in 1621 in what is now Massachusetts. The traditional story goes that the 53 surviving English Pilgrims of the Mayflower were joined by 90 members of the Indigenous Wampanoag people, and that together they feasted and made merry.  

This narrative is increasingly contested as an inaccurate and harmful myth, the retelling of which is problematic, contributing to the perpetuation of the harm done to the Wampanoag by the European colonisation of their lands. Since 1970 there has been an annual protest by First Nations people for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day.  


Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday of November every year.  


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