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Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States of America and Canada. Americans celebrate this holiday on the fourth Thursday of November; in Canada, it takes place on the second Monday of October. It is frequently celebrated as a large feast with family and friends.
In the United States the holiday honors the "First Thanksgiving", which was a harvest feast held in Plymouth in 1621. The modern holiday is largely the work of Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Boston, Massachusetts's Ladies' Magazine, who in 1827 wrote her first in a series of editorials calling for a national, annual day of Thanksgiving to commemorate the Pilgrim's first harvest feast. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the first modern Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday in November. It was moved by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the next-to-last Thursday in November. In 1941, the holiday was recognized by Congress as an official federal holiday, to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving observances are actually quite ancient, considerably predating the arrival of the pilgrims in the New World. Although Canadian schoolchildren are often told the story of pilgrims, the Canadian observance is more generally associated with traditional harvest celebrations. Thanksgiving is earlier in Canada than in the United States in large part because, with its somewhat colder climate, the harvest takes place earlier.