The Origin And History Of Thanksgiving

Introduction To Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving is a holiday where we give thanks for the things we have. The things that people are typically thankful for is family, friends, life, entertainment, among other necessities in our lives. But what is the exact origin and history of this holiday? Thanksgiving’s history extends all the way to the 17th century.

The first Thanksgiving was held in the year 1621, where both colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans shared a feast. Since then, people had a feast for over two centuries until the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving was going to take place every November.

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

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 either wanted to move to a new place so they can worship, practice, and share their faith or they wanted to own and live on new land.

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

These tribes include the Abenaki, Pawtuxet, and Wampanoag. 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, catching fish, and avoiding dangerous plants.

When their first corn harvest was a success, the Pilgrims planned a feast with the tribes 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/Native Americans. Then Thanksgiving migrated throughout the years:

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 freedom and the Consitution that was established after the war.

1817: One Of The Several States To Establish Thanksgiving

One of many states that establish Thanksgiving as a holiday is 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 that wanted Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. It took about 36 years until Thanksgiving became an official 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 on how Thanksgiving became a national holiday!


Since then, Thanksgiving became a national holiday in other countries other than the US which includes Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, Leiden, Norfolk Island, and Puerto Rico. Each country celebrates Thanksgiving on a different day. Common food that is eaten during the holiday includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie as opposed to the original pilgrim tradition, where they ate lobster, seals, and swans.


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