For Brits, and those from other nations not au fait with traditional American holidays that aren’t widely celebrated across the globe, Thanksgiving is something surrounded in mystery. Held just a month before Christmas, this cheerful occasion doesn’t seem all that dissimilar to what we’ve become accustomed to celebrating on December 25. So, if you happen to be staying in the United States – and New York in particular – during the last week in November, read on as this blog post is for you.
What is Thanksgiving and when actually is it?
If you’ve ever seen classic movies centred on Thanksgiving – think Planes, Trains and Automobiles – you’ll be aware that families working away from the place where they live will do almost anything to get back home in time for the fourth Thursday in November.
Therefore, you can expect to witness many Americans travelling out of New York City to wherever they originally came from before Thursday, November 27.
The reason for the exodus is due to the fact this national holiday is the one time of the year many people will get the chance to spend time with their families. Thanksgiving actually has its historical roots in English traditions and being thankful for a good harvest. The religious and cultural festivities date back to the early to mid-17th century when the Pilgrims and Puritans from England first started settling here.
So what can visitors to New York expect?
As you will know, New York is one of the most iconic cities in the world and you would expect it to be busy and active whenever you would choose to come here. However, at Thanksgiving, more than at any other time in the year, the city is free for tourists to enjoy all kinds of activities without having to compete with the usual crowds.
If you have seen Woody Allen’s 1986 romantic comedy-drama Hannah and Her Sisters, you’ll have more of an idea of what many native New Yorkers will be expecting to be doing once November 27 comes around again. However, the reality is often a scene of cars stuck in traffic as they make their way out of the city, or crowds of people huddled together checking the flight departure boards at one of the city’s main airports.
For those who don’t have the responsibility of meeting with friends or family to share Thanksgiving dinner with, you can simply make a reservation at a restaurant serving this veritable feast.
Shoppers will be delighted to know that Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving Day, is when there are many bargains to be had in the sales. For those still present in Manhattan on this celebration day, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a must-see event.
This should give you a bit of an idea of what New York is like during Thanksgiving, but if you have children (aged eight and up) with you and are interested in discovering the history in more detail, the New York Historical Society is holding an event in its Upper West Side museum on November 22, at 2pm.