Thanksgiving 2020: Does the UK celebrate Thanksgiving? Is it just the USA?

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Thanksgiving this year falls on, Thursday, November 26, and is a federal holiday. This means many Americans will be enjoying a well-earned day off with friends and family. Thanksgiving has been a national holiday in the United States since 1941.

Originally Thanksgiving commemorated a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621.

A group of English pilgrims in present-day Massachusetts shared a feast with a tribe of Native Americans to celebrate a plentiful harvest.

To celebrate, parades are held, food is shared and sales are held at stores across the country.

In the US, the most famous Thanksgiving Day parade is the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City.

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However, plans have had to change due to the continued coronavirus pandemic around the world.

Typically the streets of New York are packed to see the parade and its lavish floats pass by.

This year – the parade will be shown on TV and crowds are banned for the first time.

While the United States may be the country that first springs to mind when thinking of Thanksgiving, variations of the holiday are celebrated around the world.

The holiday is also celebrated in Canada and various Caribbean islands.

Does the UK celebrate Thanksgiving?

Despite Thanksgiving being an important festival and for many marking the start of the Christmas season, the UK does not celebrate the holiday to the same extent.

Some across the UK celebrate the Harvest Festival – however, this is held earlier than Thanksgiving is.

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Each year Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday in November, but the Harvest Festival takes place on the Sunday closest to the Harvest Moon.

This year, the Harvest Festival fell on Sunday, October 3.

Harvest Festival is celebrated by churches and schools, with prayers, hymns and dances.

Again, schools have had to change this due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One iconic song often sung at this time of year which many may remember is “Cauliflowers fluffy”.

Food is also gathered and offered to charity for those less fortunate.

Despite the UK not celebrating Thanksgiving to the same extent, there are events across the country for ex-Pats who wish to attend.

In London, a Thanksgiving service is held at St Pauls Cathedral.

How is Thanksgiving celebrated?

In the United States, typically families gather together for a large meal.

This usually consists of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies – but each family has their own traditions.

Often churches put on special Thanksgiving Day services, focused on giving thanks to God.

Thanksgiving Day parades are also held, the most iconic of which takes place in New York – the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Huge balloons featuring cartoon characters, seasonal items and the Macy’s star are usually paraded through the streets of New York City.

However, this year the 94th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be for television audiences only.

There won’t be the traditional two and a half-mile parade route or crowds along the way.

Instead, the event will take place to the cameras in front of the Macy’s Herald Square flagship store on 34th Street in New York City.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating!

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