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 typically including turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
U.S. President Barack Obama and his family handed out Thanksgiving meal supplies to needy Washington residents at a local soup kitchen (Martha's Table) on Wednesday.
In his weekly radio address, broadcast Thursday for the holiday, President Obama expressed hope that next Thanksgiving, many of those who lost their jobs in the recession will be back at work.
In addition to the feast, many Americans are spending the day watching nationally-televised events such as New York City's annual Thanksgiving Day parade (sponsored by Macy's department store), complete with musical performances, elaborate floats and giant inflatable cartoon characters.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama granted a presidential pardon to a turkey named "Courage," saving the bird from becoming part of a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Courage - and another turkey named "Carolina" - were due to appear Thursday at the Disneyland amusement park in the western state of California as part of another Thanksgiving Day parade.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is seen as the start to the holiday shopping season, with many stores offering big discounts and opening in the pre-dawn hours for a 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 the northeastern U.S. state of Massachusetts held a feast with a Native American tribe, the Wampanoag, which taught the colonists how to grow food and hunt for game in their new home.