Friendsgiving: A Thanksgiving meal shared with friends rather than family, sometimes on a date other than the official Thanksgiving Day (U.S. or Canadian).
The precise origins of “Friendsgiving” are uncertain. The sole citation in Urban Dictionary is dated November 26, 2009; it notes that the holiday “usually occurs on the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, since Thanksgiving is usually reserved for family gatherings.” I found a personal “Friendsgiving “ photo gallery dated November 27, 2004, but nothing from earlier years. (As far as I can tell, Friendsgiving has no connection to the TV sitcom “Friends,” which coincidentally aired its last episode in 2004.)
This year, Friendsgiving is fully fledged and robustly commercialized. As a growing minority of college students choose to stay on campus over the long Thanksgiving holiday, Friendsgiving is becoming a popular new tradition, according to Metro, an online magazine “for the young and ambitious.” BuzzFeed, whose audience is young and not so ambitious, published “17 Rules of Friendsgiving” (“1. The host makes the turkey”).
Several corporations have taken notice. On November 15, Taco Bell hosted some SoCal social-media stars at a Friendsgiving meal at company headquarters in Irvine, California. The event fit into a current Taco Bell advertising theme: “Nothing is better than a friend with Taco Bell.”
The Taco Bell invitation as tweeted by @KalebNation (229,938 followers).
@TacoBell (901,050 followers) was grateful.
Thanks to our friends for making our first #Friendsgiving one we’ll never forget.— Taco Bell (@TacoBell) November 16, 2013
Taco Bell was Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year for 2013.
Other companies jumping on the Friendsgiving bandwagon include Betty Crocker (last year: “Happy Friendsgiving”; this year: “A Very Betty Friendsgiving”), Evite (“Plan a Friendsgiving Celebration”), Whole Foods (“Do’s and Don’ts for the Ultimate Friendsgiving Potluck”), and Butterball (“Tell Us How You’re Celebrating Friendsgiving!” sweepstakes). In August 2013, Butterball filed for trademark protection for “Butterball Friendsgiving.”
Last year, the Nat Geo WILD channel celebrated Friendsgiving with a week of “unlikely animal friends” programming. The writer/producer, Katie Smithson, claimed to have “invented” the holiday. This appears to be unlikely.
Related: my 2012 post “The Cherpumple of Holidays.” Also see my December 2010 column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Happy Made-Up Holidays!” And stay tuned for my next Visual Thesaurus column, which will investigate Thanksgivukkah (this year’s rare convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah), Movember, Planksgiving, and other invented November observances.