Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and Brazil, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.
The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are also sometimes traced to the French settlers who came to New France in the 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests. The French settlers in the area typically had feasts at the end of the harvest season and continued throughout the winter season, even sharing food with the indigenous peoples of the area.
Thanksgiving proclamations were made mostly by church leaders in New England up until 1682, and then by both state and church leaders until after the American Revolution. During the revolutionary period, political influences affected the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. Various proclamations were made by royal governors, John Hancock, General George Washington, and the Continental Congress, each giving thanks to God for events favorable to their causes. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God".
In Brazil, National Thanksgiving Day was instituted by President Gaspar Dutra, through Law 781 of August 17, 1949, at the suggestion of Ambassador Joaquim Nabuco, who was enthusiastic about the commemorations he saw in 1909 in St. Patrick's Cathedral as an ambassador in Washington. In 1966, Law 5110 established that the Thanksgiving celebration would take place on the fourth Thursday of November. This date is celebrated by many families of American origin, by some Protestant Christian denominations, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (which is of American origin), the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, and the Church of the Nazarene, and Methodist denominational universities. The day is also celebrated by evangelical churches such as the Foursquare Gospel Church in Brazil.
Many of the Pilgrims who migrated to the Plymouth Plantation resided in the city of Leiden from 1609Ц1620, and had recorded their births, marriages, and deaths at the Pieterskerk (St. Peter's church). In commemoration, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day service is held each year on the morning of the American Thanksgiving Day in the Pieterskerk, a Gothic church in Leiden, noting the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World.
Thanksgiving, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November since 1941 due to federal legislation, has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States. Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a celebration of the blessings of the year, including the harvest. What Americans call the "Holiday Season" generally begins with Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is celebrated both with family and in public places with parades such as Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City, ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth, Massachusetts, McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago, and Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Parade in New Orleans. The first day after Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday-marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.