Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. In the United States, it is observed on the fourth Thursday in November and commemorates the feast shared by Plymouth colonists (now commonly known as Pilgrims) and Wampanoag Indians in 1621. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday in October, and celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year.


In September of 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England and headed for what is now the United States of America and dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Code, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims’ first winter in the New World was brutal. Only half of the passengers aboard the Mayflower survived until Spring. The surviving settlers were welcomed by a Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. He showed them how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, and catch fish in the rivers. In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, the governor organized a celebratory feast between the colonists and the local Native American tribe, the Wampanoag.


  • President Lincoln started the presidential trend of pardoning turkeys on Thanksgiving. He pardoned his son Tad’s pet turkey, Jack.
  • The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day festival did not include the giant balloons and floats we see today. Instead, the organizers of the first parade in 1924 held it with live animals from the Central Park Zoo.
  • Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It is routinely the business shopping day of the year – and most retailers turn a profit, or are “in the black,” hence the name.

Celebrating Suggestions

  • Give thanks for your customers! Host a customer appreciation or friends and family party to kick off the holiday season.
  • Sponsor or participate in various Thanksgiving events in your community: “Turkey Trot” runs or volunteering with a soup kitchen.
  • If you’re a bar or a restaurant, host a special “Black Wednesday” event the night before Thanksgiving. This date is the busiest day for bars for the entire year – even above New Years and Saint Patrick’s Day.
  • It goes without saying, but make sure your retail location is staffed and stocked appropriately for Black Friday. It’s also important to make sure your employees know you are thankful to have them there on a day where most of their friends / family are still celebrating. Stock the break room with treats, coffee and other goodies to keep them in the holiday spirit.

Check out our Marketing Holiday Calendar for more dates to celebrate!