Thanksgiving 2020 arrives in November, and we’ve got answers to all your pressing Thanksgiving questions—and maybe some fun facts you never knew.

By Claudia Fisher
Updated June 12, 2020
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When is Thanksgiving 2020, what is Thanksgiving, and more facts and info - Thanksgiving meal with turkey
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’Tis the month of Thanksgiving, and all of us pilgrims are starting to gather around our hearths to figure out how to carve a turkey and share our Thanksgiving wishes. Just kidding—most of us don’t have ancestors who traveled over from England on the Mayflower, so I guess we’re not technically pilgrims.

While we may not all be pilgrims, we are all wondering a lot about Thanksgiving this month as we prepare to feast, host Friendsgiving, and brainstorm conversation starters for the family feast. People all around the country have been Googling numerous Thanksgiving-related questions, including “When is Thanksgiving?” and “Why did the pilgrims celebrate the first Thanksgiving?”, which just goes to show that you can celebrate Thanksgiving and share Thanksgiving quotes for your whole life and still not know much about the holiday.

Listen—you’re busy right now. You’ve got enough on your plate tackling all the best Thanksgiving episodes of your favorite shows, planning Thanksgiving table decor, and prepping for Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday. Let this be a source of Thanksgiving relief for you.

Below, find the answers to the most common Thanksgiving questions people ask around this time of year. We’ve covered everything from the history behind the American tradition to specifics about the meal’s star player: the turkey. Read on, and then prep for Thanksgiving Day 2020 knowing you’re well-prepared.

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When is Thanksgiving Day 2019
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1 When is Thanksgiving 2020?

Thanksgiving Day is Thursday, November 26, 2020. Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, so you can map out Turkey Days for years to come.

Thanksgiving 2018 Facts: When was the first Thanksgiving?
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2 When was the first Thanksgiving?

According to the History Channel, the first sign of our Thanksgiving tradition occurred in 1621 when the Native American tribe Wampanoag joined the pilgrims in Plymouth (the ones who came over on the Mayflower) for an autumn harvest festival. After that, different colonies and states celebrated their own versions of thanksgiving celebrations until 1863, when Thanksgiving Day became a national holiday.

Thanksgiving 2018 Facts: Why Did the Pilgrims Celebrate the First Thanksgiving?
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3 Why did the pilgrims celebrate the first Thanksgiving?

The pilgrims had a pretty rough time when they first got to New England, and many who came over on the Mayflower did not make it through the first winter. After meeting some local Native Americans, though, the colonists were able to learn from them and successfully harvest corn on the land. To celebrate the new success, Governor William Bradford organized the celebration.

Thanksgiving 2018 Facts: How Long Did the First Thanksgiving Last
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4 How long did the first Thanksgiving last?

While we don’t know if the first colonists at Plymouth used the term “thanksgiving” to describe their shared feast, we do know that the first iteration of the holiday was a three-day celebration. The History Channel notes that records from the settlers’ journals show the first Thanksgiving menu was a tad different than what we’ve become accustomed to, featuring deer brought over by the Wampanoag guests and no pies or desserts because the Mayflower’s sugar supply was so low.

5 What president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?

Contrary to popular belief that George Washington mandated the day, it was actually Abraham Lincoln who made it a national tradition to give thanks in November. George Washington was the first president to tell Americans to observe the holiday—and John Adams and James Madison followed suit—but until Lincoln, the day was not an annual holiday and, if celebrated by states, was observed on different days around the country.

Thanksgiving 2018 Facts: What Is a Baby Turkey Called?
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6 What is a baby turkey called?

A baby turkey is called a “poult,” according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. The term was first used in the 15th century. Turkeys are among a group of birds called fowl, which include many birds domesticated and kept for their eggs and meat such as chickens, pheasants, and ducks. According to the Baltimore Bird Club, a group of turkeys is called a “rafter,” and PBS notes that a male turkey is referred to as a “tom,” while a female is a “hen.”

Thanksgiving 2018 Facts: Canada Thanksgiving
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7 When is Thanksgiving in Canada?

Canada also has a Thanksgiving Day, thought it’s different from its American counterpart. Also a day for giving thanks, the day is celebrated on the second Monday of October by our northern neighbors. (That will be Monday, October 12, in 2020.) According to TIME, Canada’s Thanksgiving origins also begin with the explorer who first discovered the land, but then transitioned to a day when the people there could celebrate not being American (rude). They were happy to be Canadians because they avoided having to fight (and die) in the Civil War. Eventually, it became a day to celebrate a year of bountiful harvest, and they enjoy a meal similar to ours with turkey, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.

8 When is Thanksgiving 2021?

For you early planners, Thanksgiving 2021 will be Thursday, November 25. That should give you plenty of time to book your flights ahead and make your travel arrangements—and figure out who’s hosting next year.