How International Students Can Make the Most of Thanksgiving in New York 2024

thanksgiving in new york 2023

New York. A city where all your dreams can come true if you try (so they say). I moved here for the same reason: to fulfill my long-held dream of becoming a marketer. I have been living here for quite a while, and I have come to know and love American holidays. But one holiday in particular. I like Thanksgiving very much, and I would like to share with you what it is like to celebrate this wonderful holiday in New York, the city that has become my home. So, Thanksgiving in New York 2024, we are ready for you!

What I Know About Thanksgiving and Why I Love It

I am a sociable person, and I like it when people are open and care about each other. Maybe that’s why I happened to like Thanksgiving so much. After all, it’s about caring for others and being thankful for the blessings you have in your life. When I came to the United States, I knew some things about this holiday. After all, it appears in many movies. (Who doesn’t love a good romantic comedy from Hollywood?)

So, I was aware of the basics:

  • Thanksgiving is a family holiday that brings all its members together. People come home from different parts of the country.
  • Americans prepare a lavish feast with a turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and a pumpkin pie in the center of the table.
  • The holiday has a charming autumnal atmosphere. People decorate their homes with small pumpkins, fall leaves, and turkey motifs of all kinds.
  • Everyone looks forward to the Macy’s parade on TV and watches it with the whole family. New Yorkers are privileged in this regard and can watch this action live.

But these things were new to me:

  • Americans deeply honor the Thanksgiving holiday and prepare for it carefully.
  • Families gather around the table and give thanks for everything they have in life, but especially for each other. They celebrate their unity and look forward to the future.
  • Not all Americans like cranberry sauce. (I find it delicious.)
  • On Thanksgiving Day, the President performs a very interesting ritual of pardoning two turkeys. These lucky animals no longer have to worry about their lives. Usually, the Presidential Service sends them to different farms where the owners take good care of them and fulfill all their turkey whims.
  • The Macy’s Parade is a grandiose event that everyone should see at least once in their lives.

Thanksgiving 2024 Ideas or How I Celebrated It in the Dorm

thanksgiving 2023

Source – Giphy

In one of my articles, I told how I moved from a dorm to a rented apartment. However, before I moved out, I had a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with my friends there. Although I didn’t really enjoy the experience of living in the dormitory, that was the reason why I moved out (Captain Obvious’ note). Thanksgiving with friends in the dorm was an interesting and enjoyable experience. You can use it and transform it into your own Thanksgiving 2024 ideas.

Since we students usually don’t have much money, especially for fancy celebrations, everything was quite modest. My friends and I cooked a delicious dinner. Instead of the usual turkey, we opted for chicken (it’s cheaper and easier to cook). On this holiday, I tried cranberry sauce for the first time and fell in love with it. I also found out that not all Americans are crazy about it. Together with the chicken, the girls also served fresh vegetables and tried to bake a pumpkin pie. We didn’t do a great job, but it was eatable though.

To fill the room with a festive atmosphere, I decorated it with autumn leaves and small pumpkins. My friends and I painted them beforehand and put a few on the table as well. It looked really nice. When we sat down at the table, everyone expressed what they were grateful for. It was a touching moment, I enjoyed it so much. There was an atmosphere of unity in the air.

Our gang had eaten deliciously, and we decided to have some fun. Since we were late with dinner, it would have been a waste of time to go looking for a place to watch the Macy’s parade. My friends and I watched it on TV that year. Cocktails, board games, and a lot of laughter followed. It was truly a day to remember.

A Thanksgiving I’ll Never Forget

thanksgiving 2023 in new york

Source – Giphy

When the entire civilized world was covered by the pandemic, Thanksgiving was different. The Macy’s Parade, one of the most prominent signs of this holiday, was smaller and without the iconic pomp. Instead of 2.5 miles, the parade went only one block. It was sad and depressing. I was sitting at home with some baked chicken and green peas. That was all I forced myself to cook. Although my friends called me and congratulated me on the holiday, there was no one around. That holiday was very lonely, and I am glad that we were able to curb COVID-19 and regain our normal life.

Thanksgiving in New York 2024: Where to Go and What to Do?

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Every year, it is a different date. But it’s not the date that matters, but the day of the week. Since it’s a Thursday, most people take the next day off and get a real holiday vacation. During these four days, New York, which never sleeps, looks even busier. So, what can you spend your fall vacation on?

  • Macy’s parade. As I said, everyone should see this parade on Thanksgiving in New York at least once in their life. It is an incredible show. The first time I saw it, I was stunned, in a good way. Giant balloons, spectacular floats, incredible performances, famous singers — who wouldn’t be breathless? The parade runs through the city for 2.5 miles, ending outside Macy’s Herald Square. It’s one of the most prominent highlights of Thanksgiving day.
  • Holiday markets in the open air. You can plunge into the festive atmosphere of Thanksgiving and enjoy it to your heart’s content at the holiday markets of New York. Holiday Shops at Bryant Park or Union Square Holiday Market are the perfect places to go. There, you can have a delicious meal, have fun at the ice rink, and buy handmade souvenirs.
  • What to do on Thanksgiving? Black Friday sales! On Friday, after a successful celebration and consumption of thousands of calories, it’s a good idea to go shopping. And on Black Friday, you’ll have a wide variety of places to go. The most popular locations are Macy’s Herald Square, Apple Store 5th Ave, or Saks Fifth Avenue. Whether it’s kitchenware, gadgets, branded clothing, or anything else you can imagine, you can get it at a significant discount on Black Friday.
  • A football game. Americans love football. Football matches are part of the celebration of various events, and Thanksgiving is no exception. So, on Thanksgiving 2024 in New York, go watch the New York Giants and Jets home game. OR! Go sporty and organize a match with your friends, just like the characters from “Friends” did. But don’t get too caught up in the rivalry, or you’ll miss dinner like Monica and Ross.
thanksgiving 2023 guide

Source – Giphy

  • Volunteer community projects. To get a better feel for the Thanksgiving atmosphere, it will be extremely useful and very instructive to volunteer at local shelters, food banks, or community centers, like FeedingNYC. The essence of this holiday is the celebration of sharing what you have with others. Therefore, helping those in need is very much in the spirit of this day and one of the greatest ways to celebrate it.
  • Traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant. If you are not afraid to spend an extra penny and enjoy a real Thanksgiving in New York dinner, you can book a table at one of the great restaurants in New York City. Tavern on the Green or Carmines offers this service and treats you with perfectly prepared traditional dishes for this day. If you like this option, make sure to book a table well in advance.
  • Dinner with other international students. A variant of the holiday celebration I described above. This is a highly bonding experience and an opportunity to get to know not only American culture but also to share your own. You can add your favorite dishes to the festive table and make Thanksgiving multinational, just like New York is.

These are my personal Thanksgiving ideas. You can come up with something completely different and spend this day another way. New York is rich in entertainment options, especially on Thanksgiving, and everyone can find something they like best.

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Akari Saito
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Akari is an undergraduate Marketing student in New York. Though born in Tokyo, Akari’s heart belongs to the Big Apple. In her free time, she enjoys drawing anime and cartoons, reading, and learning as much as she can about whatever niche topic she’s interested in at the moment. She never gets tired of enjoying her collection of Dragon Ball characters.