This Thanksgiving what is it that you will be thankful for? Many of us will be thankful for our families, friends and jobs, but have you ever stopped to think how Thanksgiving, the actual holiday came about? To be honest, I know, like most of you the main story but never knew the little details that ended up really making the biggest impact in establishing our Thanksgiving Day Celebration.
The first acknowledged Thanksgiving is dated back to 1621, when it was celebrated individually by colonies and states. In 1621, Thanksgiving was not recognized as a holiday but more like a gathering. Pilgrims seeking a better life, a life without religious persecution, boarded the Mayflower for a pilgrimage to America. Pilgrims set ground on Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts on December 11th, 1620. After settling in Plymouth Rock the pilgrims faced a devastating winter, with the help of the native Indians 56 out of 102 pilgrims survived. To show thanks to the native Indians for helping them survive the winter, the Pilgrims held a feast which lasted three days. I don’t know about your family traditions, but my family always has the same food every year, the traditional turkey and pumpkin pies. The pilgrims feast didn’t include such food items, but had items like fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, plums and venison.
After this first initial “feast” another one wasn’t held until the year of 1676. It wasn’t until October 1777 that all 13 colonies joined in the Thanksgiving celebration. In 1789 George Washington tried to establish a National Day of Thanksgiving, but attempting to do this led to much uproar and hardship. Many felt that the Pilgrims did not want a national holiday. When President Jefferson took office he opposed the idea of Thanksgiving all together. We can all give thanks to a lady named Sarah Hale whose efforts gave us our national Thanksgiving holiday. Sarah was a magazine editor who campaigned for the Thanksgiving holiday. She wrote letters to government officials, presidents and wrote editorials for over 40 years. In 1863 she was finally able to make this day a reality when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the Thanksgiving holiday be held each November. Thanksgiving has been proclaimed by every president since and in 1941 Thanksgiving was finally declared a national American holiday by Congress and was to be celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November.
When learning the history of Thanksgiving Day it is amazing to realize how much effort it took to make it a national holiday. This year as we have all faced extremely challenging times let us all give thanks for the gifts we do have in our lives.
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