Thanksgiving in the U.S. is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It commemorates the first successful harvest of the early European settlers in Massachusetts and was an opportunity for them to give thanks for good weather, cooperation with local Native Americans, and enough food to survive the oncoming winter.
Schools and businesses are closed for the day. Because the holiday is on Thursday, it gives most Americans a four-day weekend, so many people use this opportunity to travel back to their hometowns to celebrate with relatives. Nationally, it is the busiest travel week for airlines. College students go home to be with family. Homeless shelters serve turkey and other traditional food. In addition to eating and visiting, Americans watch morning parades and afternoon football games on TV.
The most traditional meat served that day is turkey (although some eat ham). Americans typically eat too much that day, and tables are full to overflowing with special casseroles, potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, gravy, rolls or corn bread. The most common dessert is pumpkin pie, but apple and mincemeat pies are also common.
The day after Thanksgiving marks the first day of the business year that retailers operate in the black, that is, begin to see profits. For this reason, merchants have come to call this day Black Friday. It is the busiest shopping day of the year, as early birds line up in pre-dawn hours to take advantage of limited-time sales. Black Friday is the first official shopping day for those getting ready for Christmastime giving.