Holiday Vocabulary: Thanksgiving

November is an important time of the year for American holidays. If you need more help with holiday vocabulary or any other aspect of the English language, contact the English Island in Atlanta. Our caring, passionate ESL teachers can create a lesson plan that is tailored to your individual needs.


A holiday is a special day of celebration. In American English, the holiday season or the holidays refer to the time from November until the beginning of January during which many holidays are celebrated. Wishing someone a “happy holidays” is a polite and inclusive way of expressing seasonal greetings.


Thanksgiving is a secular (non-religious) public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The “First Thanksgiving” was an autumn harvest feast shared by the Plymouth Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621. While days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states for more than 200 years, it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Popular dishes include turkey, cornbread, stuffing (also called dressing in some regions), sweet potatoes, yams, and more!


Friendsgiving is a newer celebration popular with younger Americans and around the world. Those who cannot be with family or those who do not celebrate Thanksgiving traditionally will often organize a Friendsgiving meal during the holiday. Just like a potluck, friends, coworkers, and/or of the host(s) will bring their favorite meals and gather for a large dinner in the same spirit as Thanksgiving.

Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. This is a huge commercial holiday in which many stores offer huge discounts on electronics, furniture, appliances, and more to those willing to face the large crowds and lines that start early in the morning. These deals extend online all weekend long, culminating on the next monday, known in recent years as Cyber Monday.