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The History Of Thanksgiving (and why we eat turkey!)

Thanksgiving Origin And Background:

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday where we give thanks for the things we have. People are typically thankful for family, friends, life, and entertainment, among other necessities in our lives. But what is the exact origin and history of Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving’s history extends all the way to the 17th century.

The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621, where both English colonists and the Wampanoag Native American Tribe shared a feast. Since then, people had had a feast for over two centuries until the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving Day would occur every November during the Autumn.

Although the Wampanoag Native American tribe did share this feast, there is a lot of sadness surrounding Thanksgiving Day as in later years, many Native Americans were slaughtered.

Here is a brief timeline that tells about the origins, background, and history of Thanksgiving.

Click here for a list of Thanksgiving Gifts

1620: The First Thanksgiving

On September 1620, a ship named the Mayflower departed from Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers. These passengers had two ambitions: they wanted to move to a new place to worship God, practice, and share their faith. They also wanted to own and live on new land.

After traveling for 66 days, the Mayflower crossed over to Massachusett Bay, where the Pilgrims settled. From there, they created a village. In addition to the Pilgrims already living in Massachusetts Bay, different tribes of Native Americans (the first native people to live in Massachusetts Bay) greeted the Pilgrims.

These Native American tribes include the Abenaki, Pawtuxet, and Wampanoag Tribe. Since the Pilgrims were suffering from malnutrition and illness, the chief of the Pawtuxet tribe taught them how to cultivate corn, extract sap from trees, catch fish, and avoid dangerous plants.

When their first corn harvest was a success, the Pilgrims planned a feast with the native people to show how thankful they were. In November 1621, the first Thanksgiving was held, and it lasted for three days.

1623-1863: Thanksgiving Becomes A National Holiday

In 1623, the Pilgrims celebrated their second Thanksgiving. From there, it became common practice for the pilgrims and Native People.

1789: After The American Revolution

President George Washington issued a proclamation where he states that Americans should celebrate to express their gratitude for the outcome of the war. This includes both freedom and the US Consitution that was established after the war.

Part of the celebrations includes a Thanksgiving Feast or Thanksgiving Dinner where we gather with our loved ones. Also, a Thanksgiving Day Parade.

1817: One Of Several States To Establish Thanksgiving

One of many states that established Thanksgiving as a holiday in New York. Each state that established Thanksgiving as a holiday celebrated it on different days. However, the Southern part of the US was not aware of the holiday.

1827: Sarah Josepha Hale

A magazine editor and writer of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” created a campaign to create Thanksgiving as a national holiday. It took about 36 years until Thanksgiving became an official national Thanksgiving holiday.

1863: Thanksgiving Becomes A National Holiday

Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln accepted the request during the Civil War. Thanksgiving was celebrated on the final Thursday of November until President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week due to the effects of the Great Depression.

This is the timeline of the history of Thanksgiving and how it became a national holiday!


Since then, Thanksgiving Day became a national holiday in countries other than the US, including Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, Leiden, Norfolk Island, and Puerto Rico. Each country has a Thanksgiving celebration on a different day. However, common food eaten during the holiday includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie instead of the original pilgrim tradition, where they ate lobster, seals, and swans.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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