What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving football

Chances are if you're studying in the United States you can't escape the signs that let you know Thanksgiving is fast approaching. But if all you know about the holiday is that it’s a break from classes, then we're here to help. Of all autumn's most-loved national traditions – from pumpkin spice lattes to hayrides – Thanksgiving is the pinnacle. The holiday dates back to November 1621 when Pilgrims and Native Americans held a fall harvest festival. The earliest menus were comprised of venison, pumpkin, lobster (they were celebrating near the coast, after all) and, of course, corn. Thanksgiving has since evolved as an occasion for loved ones to get together over turkey, trimmings and pumpkin pie to give thanks for all things good. Check out our tips below for celebrating Thanksgiving this November 23.

Join or Host a 'Friendsgiving'

As it has become more common for Americans to move away from home – across the country or the world – in search of work or adventure, Thanksgiving celebrations, once mainly family-oriented, include friend-oriented festivities, too. Pop culture has named these prevalent parties 'Friendsgiving'. Usually casual in nature, Friendsgiving is easy to join or to host. Everyone brings a favorite food and beverage to share over a friendly conversation at a location that makes one feel at home (even if just for the moment).

Celebrate With a Local

If you receive an invitation to attend Thanksgiving with a trusted classmate, go – and take pictures, then tell us about it! Each family celebration promises to be unique (even if the turkey is ubiquitous). Check with your host university's international office to see if they're throwing any holiday-related events or know of opportunities for you to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner to Americans in need.

Don't Be Shy

It's no secret Americans serve large portions of food, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Frankly, it just might be the rule that celebrants aren’t timid about tasting every dish on the menu. So arrive at the dinner table hungry and fill your plate.