Bird watching: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade / AFP/Getty

Turkeys, take cover! It's time to give thanks


The year that US president Abraham Lincoln first decreed Thanksgiving to be a national holiday, making this year the 150th anniversary when it falls on 28 November. The event actually dates back to 1621, when the colonising English pilgrims gave thanks for their first harvest in the New World. But the holiday wasn't officially enshrined until the 19th century, when Uncle Abe picked the fourth Thursday of November (


The length, in miles, of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade ( parade) in New York. The pageant has become as much a part of the modern event as turkey, with floats, marching bands, dance groups and even former X Factor contestant, Cher Lloyd, entertaining crowds from 9am. It certainly makes for a grand spectacle if you're in New York. On Wednesday 27 November, Virgin will get you there in time from Heathrow for four nights at the Affinia Manhattan for £822pp (


The estimated number of turkeys eaten over Thanksgiving, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The good news is that at least two get saved each year in an official pardoning ceremony at the White House. You can ponder how the humble turkey found its way on to the pilgrims' plate in The Taste of America book, published by Phaidon, which details the history of the nation's food; £24.95 (


The date, in November this year, of "Black Friday". In the country that champions consumerism like few others, the day immediately after Thanksgiving has become a time for retailers to flog everything from white goods to Wiis at knock-down prices. For an alternative to New York City, aim for a break in Boston, close to where the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth in 1620. Fly out on 29 November from Heathrow and BA has a three nights at the Midtown for £655pp (


The price, in pounds, of the Thanksgiving menu at the Pont Street restaurant within the Belgraves hotel in London. It has a set dinner menu from 28-30 November at 20 Chesham Place, SW1X 8HQ. Free-range turkey with chestnut stuffing will feature alongside pumpkin pie (020 3189 4850;