What are you thankful for?

The 1st Thanksgiving

The 1st Thanksgiving

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.

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving Feast

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.

What I’m Thankful for this Thanksgiving

I am guessing you’re thinking I’m writing a Thanksgiving blog because it is November and Thanksgiving is this month. Maybe you are thinking we are trying to plug our Thanksgiving, Autumn, or Winter flags? Actually, those aren’t correct at all, but if you want to click on those links… 🙂 Actually the reason I decided to write a Thanksgiving blog is because when I came to Wal-Mart today, a “person” was wearing this amazingly tacky sweater and the first thought that came to mind was…I doubt even the pilgrims would have been seen in that during the winter of 1565. In all honesty though, it looks like it should have come with a free bowl of soup. It looks good on her though..

Back to business. So I am excited for Thanksgiving, a time when I get a couple of days off of work, even though I will miss it (The boss is reading). I get to eat as much of grandmother’s food as I can possibly stand and I get to play  football with my family. I know that many of us have our own Thanksgiving traditions, but what were some of the first traditions?

There is actually some controversy of when and why the first Thanksgiving days were celebrated;however, the first recorded day of Thanksgiving in the present United States occurred on September 5, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. That day, 600 Spanish settlers, led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived and established the first European settlement in the New World. The men and women were so thankful to be off the boat and finally in the New World that they immediately held a feast to give thanks for their safe arrival.

firstthanksgivingAnother similar celebration took place in Plymouth in 1621 to give thanks for their harvest and to give thanks to  Squanto and the Patuxet tribe for teaching them how to grow corn and catch eel. This has generally been regarded as the first true “Thanksgiving” in the US and started a tradition that lasted for many years to come. Throughout the remainder of the 1600’s and 1700’s, many places celebrated their “Thanksgiving” days, yet many times, they were marked by fasting and prayer rather than feasts.

George Washington proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day in December of 1777 following the victory at Saratoga, New York during the revolutionary war. He later proclaimed the first national government appointed Thanksgiving Day on October 3, 1789.

Abraham Lincoln continued this tradition of proclamation and established a general data for Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday of November. Finally in 1939, Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill to celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the 4th Thursday of November. This remains until today. Whoo, that was a lot.

ThanksgivingFeastHowever you celebrate Thanksgiving, whether it be with family or food or games or relaxing, take time to give thanks for this wonderful country. Lift up our soldiers, our government, and our families. If you have the day off, give thanks for a time to relax. If you have to work, give thanks for your job. My mother always said to give thanks for the things we have and give thanks for many of the things we don’t have. Get ready for black Friday and the shopping season and some people might want to check on deals for new sweaters ;).