Tradition isn’t a word that’s normally used in a city as international and open minded as New York, but when it comes to Thanksgiving even New Yorkers enjoy traditions. What’s there not to like? Lots of food, laughs, football, and sales!
Many internationals come from countries in which Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated and are unsure what to do when invited to a friend’s Thanksgiving get together. Don’t worry, we’ve been there – and now we’re here to explain what to expect this Thanksgiving in NYC.
Thanksgiving has developed as a celebration and commemoration of a time when the pilgrims who came to America had their first successful harvest and wanted to celebrate it with a feast and prayers of thanks. The Native Americans who helped them learn how to plant and grow some of the food also joined in. Over the years it has developed into a general day for appreciating one’s blessings, and now Thanksgiving involves gathering with family and friends, eating delicious food, and relaxing. Since it’s not a holiday tied to a specific religion, everyone gets involved!
Giving Thanks at Dinner
Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a generally religious observance, offering a chance for all the members of a community to give thanks to God for whatever blessings they have received that year. In many families on Thanksgiving the entire family and guests gather around the table and say a prayer before their meal. Normally everyone around the table holds hands and the host starts the prayer, then each member of the circle mentions what he/she is thankful for. Of course every family will celebrate differently; non-religious families may simply share with the group what they are thankful for in a non-prayer format.
Learn about some examples of saying a prayer at the table here.
Traditional Thanksgiving Food
- Yams (sweet potatoes)
- Mashed potatoes
- Cranberry sauce
- Green bean casserole
- Apple Pie
- Pumpkin Pie
- Pecan Pie
Click here for recipes of popular Thanksgiving dishes.
What if you find yourself alone on Thanksgiving?
Hey, it happens- but luckily in New York City there are various options for how you can spend your Thanksgiving.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not invite some friends over and cook your own turkey? Cooking a turkey is a long process but it is definitely worth the wait! Here are some simple recipes for a mouth-watering turkey meal this Thanksgiving: Top 20 Turkey Recipes.
If you don’t want to cook yourself, many restaurants are open on Thanksgiving Day and have special Thanksgiving menus. This year, especially because of Hurricane Sandy you can expect even more businesses to be open with dinner specials for your enjoyment. These Thanksgiving menus are usually listed as prix fixe but we can assure you the food will be delicious. Visit your favorite restaurant this Thanksgiving to see if they have special menus.
You can also volunteer your time to organizations and churches. Organizations like The Food Bank for New York and New York Cares use this day to help those in need with food drives and special meals at soup kitchens.
Central Park West: West side of street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle and east side from 70th to 65th Street
Columbus Circle: West side of the street
6th Avenue: between 58th and 34th Street
34th Street: south side of the street between Broadway and 7th Avenue
Please note that this is a popular destination for many families, so you should arrive early! Although the parade starts at 9:00 a.m., you should probably make sure you are there by around 7:00 a.m. Many people bring folding chairs and snacks to make the parade viewing as comfortable as possible. In addition, dress warmly because sitting still outdoors in November is a chilly experience! Another important factor to keep in mind is ensuring that your parade viewing spot is close to a restaurant or business with a bathroom so when the inevitable bathroom break or food break is needed, you’re near your destination. This point is especially important if you are watching the parade with kids.
Also – Don’t miss out on the balloon inflations the day before the parade. Every year since 1927, crowds gather around the area surrounding the American Museum of Natural History from 3-10pm to watch these magnifacent balloons come to life. The procession starts on Columbus Avenue and 79th street. Remember to arrive early, as the event can get just as crowded as the actual parade!
For more information on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, visit their website.
Thanksgiving Day Football
Travel around Thanksgiving
To find out if your favorite retail shop has Black Friday specials be sure to visit their website (many also offer online specials as well) and have your credit card ready! For those who miss out on Black Friday because you woke up too late, there’s Cyber Monday. The Monday after Black Friday, Cyber Monday is when companies have online only deals for those that enjoy online shopping (huge fans here!).
Some general tips that we have for you when it comes to Black Friday include:
- Shop with patience: You should be aware that many shoppers will be rude because of the nature of the day so arrive with lots of patience or you will have a miserable day. Expect shoves, dirty looks and yelling. Oh, what joy!
- Lack of sleep: Many businesses will open up their doors earlier than usual so you should expect to wait in line as early as 4:00 a.m. Some businesses even open right after Thanksgiving dinner.
- Dress appropriately: It goes without saying that you will be walking a great deal that day so wear comfy shoes.
- Debit/Credit Cards: Opt for the plastic to ensure lines move quicker. You don’t want to be given dirty looks by thousands of eager shoppers because you are counting your bills.
- Be Green: If you opt for shopping bags from each business you visit you will be walking around with tons of bags and it’ll make your walking experience harder than it needs to be. Bring your own tote bags in which you will be able to combine your purchases.