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Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday

Millions of Americans are celebrating the annual Thanksgiving Day holiday with a traditional feast with friends and family.

Thanksgiving, which is held in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November, is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year. The day is centered on a meal usually including turkey or ham, potatoes or squash, stuffing, cranberry dressing, and pumpkin pie.

President George Bush is spending the holiday at the Camp David presidential retreat outside of Washington, while his successor, President-elect Barack Obama is in Chicago.

Even the astronauts and a cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station marked the day. Astronauts raised plastic cups of iced tea and toasted the holiday before eating a Thanksgiving meal of dehydrated turkey.

In addition to the feast, many Americans spent the day watching nationally televised events such as New York City's annual Thanksgiving Day parade, sponsored by Macy's department store, a national dog show, and football games.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is seen as the official start to the holiday shopping season, with many stores offering big discounts and opening in the pre-dawn hours for the rush of shoppers.

The United States has officially observed Thanksgiving since 1863, although the first Thanksgiving is believed to have taken place in 1621.

That year, British colonists at the Plymouth settlement in what is now Massachusetts held a feast with a Native American tribe, the Wampanaog, who taught the colonists how to grow food and hunt for game in their new home.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.