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A Stroll Through The History of Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is a national holiday with a storied history. An interesting fact is that the holiday is not only celebrated in the United States but also in Canada. The difference is that in Canada it is celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October versus the 4th Thursday in November in the US.

The tradition of Thanksgiving started in the year of 1621 in Plymouth, which is now modern day Massachusetts. Pilgrims and Puritans that were emigrating from New England during the 1620s brought along the tradition of Thanksgiving. The purpose of their feast was to sow their thanks for the harvest.

The “First Thanksgiving” lasted three days. The guest list was made up of ninety Native Americans and fifty-three Pilgrims. The purpose behind this celebration was to thank God for his blessings. Some states such as Florida, Texas, and Virginia claim that this historical event occurred in their vicinity. Some historical documents are available which support some of the claims made.

National History of Thanksgiving

In 1789, President George Washington acclaimed that Thanksgiving be celebrated nationally. But, it wasn’t till 1863 after the American Civil War, when Thanksgiving started to be celebrated as a federal holiday. This was finalized by President Abraham Lincoln and he stated that the holiday’s purpose is “Thanksgiving and Praise to Our Beneficent Father who Dwelleth in the Heavens”. Until the year 1941, Thanksgiving became subject for political debates. Democrats and Republicans began having issues regarding the holiday which eventually lead Democrats celebrating it on November 23 and Republicans   on November 30. In 1942, it was made final that the holiday would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of October annually.

The traditional foods that appear on the dinner tables of many Americans on Thanksgiving are rooted back to the food the Pilgrims and Native Americans Thanksgiving era. The turkey played a big role in the dinner and it still does, as Thanksgiving is referred to “Turkey Day” quite often. Most of the foods were introduced to the Europeans by the Pilgrims and Native Americans as new types of food.

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