Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Special Regard for Families

by Mark Gillespie

Traditional turkey and stuffing most popular Thanksgiving dishes

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As Americans take a break from the uncertainties of this year's undecided presidential election to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, a new Gallup poll, conducted November 13-15, finds most people will gather around the dining table to munch on the traditional turkey and stuffing. Nearly half of all Americans say turkey is the dish they most look forward to eating on Thanksgiving Day, while another 17% most anticipate stuffing. Pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, ham, and cranberries also received mentions in this Thanksgiving treat category.

What is the one food or dish that you most look forward to eating on Thanksgiving Day?

 

   

Turkey

46%

Stuffing/dressing

17

Pumpkin pie

5

Mashed potatoes

5

Sweet potatoes/yams

4

Ham

3

Pie (other)

3

Cranberries/cranberry sauce

2

Vegetables

2

Salad

1

Casseroles

1

Dessert (other)

1

   

Everything

2

Other

6

None

1

No opinion

1



Men seem to anticipate the Thanksgiving turkey more than women do -- 51% of men say they most look forward to it, compared to 42% of women. The tradition of turkey at Thanksgiving may also be more important to older Americans, with 54% of those over 65 anticipating it, compared to 42% of those 18-29, 47% of those aged 30-49, and 45% of those 50-64. White Americans seem to prefer turkey more than do blacks (48% to 31%).

It would be difficult at this politically charged time to ignore all partisan differences at the Thanksgiving table. Although the significance of these findings is not immediately apparent, the results of the poll show that 50% of Republicans prefer turkey, compared to 41% of Democrats. However, Democrats are more likely to prefer stuffing than do Republicans (21% to 15%).

Most Americans Will Celebrate With Family, Friends
More than nine out of 10 Americans will celebrate the holiday with family and friends, while just four percent plan to dine alone. That percentage is consistent among most age groups, with young adults (18-29) being slightly less likely to dine alone -- perhaps because they are more likely to join their parents than are older Americans (12% for the 18-29 age group, compared to six percent for those aged 30-49). Thanksgiving also appears to be a more popular time for family gatherings in the Midwest (74%), as opposed to other regions of the country -- sixty-seven percent of those living in the East will join family members for the holiday, compared to 61% in the South and the West.

Many restaurants will be closed for the holiday -- and apparently with good reason. Just seven percent of those polled said they would be eating their holiday meal at a restaurant on Thanksgiving Day, with those over 65 far more likely to do so than younger Americans. Nearly four out of 10 Americans plan to have dinner at home, while 51% will go to the homes of relatives or friends for dinner.

Most Americans Thankful for Their Families
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon those things in our lives for which we are most thankful. The Gallup poll asked Americans to mention the two or three things for which they are most grateful. Here are the results, contrasted with the responses to the same question asked in 1990 and 1996.

 

 

2000
Nov 13-15

1996
Nov 21-24

1990
Nov 15-18

       
 

%

%

%

Family (general)

59

61

30

Own health

54

50

47

Child/children

17

20

--

Freedom/living in free country/living in United States

17

10

3

Job/career

16

21

15

Friends

13

8

--

Wife/husband

11

12

--

Income/personal finances/financial security

11

7

--

Home/roof overhead

8

7

6

God

7

5

3

Own faith

7

3

--

Health of family

7

3

--

Parents

4

2

--

Grandchild/grandchildren

3

4

--

Jesus Christ

3

2

--

Peace/end of war

2

2

*

Education/school

2

1

--

Food

1

2

--

My life/being alive

--

12

--

       

OTHER (vol.)

6

23

12

EVERYTHING (vol.)

1

1

3

NOTHING (vol.)

1

1

1

No opinion

*

2

4

 

250^

259 ^

124 ^

       

^ Adds to more than 100% due to multiple responses



Family tops the list of things that Americans are most thankful for, an interesting change from 1990, when Americans were more thankful for their health than their families. There also appears to be a growing appreciation of freedom in the United States, with this change being reflected in Gallup polls over the last 10 years. It should also be noted that the 1990 poll was conducted at a time of economic recession, which may explain why polls since then have shown increases in the percentage of Americans who are most thankful for their financial security and their homes.

There are interesting demographic differences in the responses to this "thankful" question. For example, 49% of nonwhites say they are thankful for their families, compared to 61% of whites. By way of comparison, 73% of nonwhites say they are most thankful for their health. In addition, older Americans are far more likely to be thankful for their health than for their families. Just 48% of those over 65 say family, while 61% say health. By way of comparison, 65% of those aged 18-29 are most thankful for their families, while just 47% say health. 18-29 year olds are also more likely to be thankful for their careers (21%) than are those over 50 (7%). This is probably because many of those over 50 are approaching retirement age or have already retired.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,028 adults, 18 years and older, conducted November 13-15, 2000. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we'd like to know what two or three things are you most thankful for in your life right now? What else are you thankful for [open-ended]?

 

 

2000
Nov 13-15

1996
Nov 21-24

1990
Nov 15-18

       
 

%

%

%

Family (general)

59

61

30

Own health

54

50

47

Child/children

17

20

--

Freedom/living in free country/living in United States

17

10

3

Job/career

16

21

15

Friends

13

8

--

Wife/husband

11

12

--

Income/personal finances/financial security

11

7

--

Home/roof overhead

8

7

6

God

7

5

3

Own faith

7

3

--

Health of family

7

3

--

Parents

4

2

--

Grandchild/grandchildren

3

4

--

Jesus Christ

3

2

--

Peace/end of war

2

2

*

Education/school

2

1

--

Food

1

2

--

My life/being alive

--

12

--

       

OTHER (vol.)

6

23

12

EVERYTHING (vol.)

1

1

3

NOTHING (vol.)

1

1

1

No opinion

*

2

4

 

250^

259 ^

124 ^

       

^ Adds to more than 100% due to multiple responses



Who will you be having dinner with this Thanksgiving, or will you be dining alone [Open ended]?

 

 

2000
Nov 13-15

Family (general)

65%

Friends

7

Child/children

7

Parents

5

Wife/husband

5

Dining alone

4

In-laws

2

Brother/sister

1

Relative

1

   

Other

1

No opinion

2



Are your current plans to have Thanksgiving dinner -- [ROTATED: at your home, at the home of other family members or friends, (or) at a restaurant or some other public establishment]?

 

 


At home

Family or
friend's home

Restaurant/
public establishment

No
opinion

         

200 Nov 13-15

39%

51

7

3



What is the one food or dish that you most look forward to eating on Thanksgiving Day [open ended]?

 

 

2000
Nov 13-15

Turkey

46%

Stuffing/dressing

17

Pumpkin pie

5

Mashed potatoes

5

Sweet potatoes/yams

4

Ham

3

Pie (other)

3

Cranberries/cranberry sauce

2

Vegetables

2

Salad

1

Casseroles

1

Dessert (other)

1

   

Everything

2

Other

6

None

1

No opinion

1



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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/2290/Americans-Celebrate-Thanksgiving-Special-Regard-Families.aspx
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