Americans will pack football stadiums, flock to parades and gather more freely Thursday for family feasts, grateful to celebrate Thanksgiving Day traditions again after the pandemic kept many at home last year.
The holiday dates to the early 17th Century, when pilgrims from Europe and Native Americans gathered to share the autumn bounty — a celebration of goodwill before the genocide that was to come. Nowadays, the approach of the long holiday weekend typically ignites a frenzy of travel as scattered families come together for holiday meals.
With COVID-19 deaths and infections soaring last year, many people shared turkey dinners over Zoom. Now that vaccines have made the pandemic more manageable, an estimated 53.4 million people will travel for Thanksgiving, up 13% from 2020, according to the American Automobile Association. Air travel is expected to recover to about 91% of pre-pandemic levels.