The History of Thanksgiving

By Camey Jay

Today when we think of Thanksgiving, we think of the family gathering, where there is lots of food, laughter, and sometimes music. What we don’t put much thought into is the history.

Thanksgiving was not originally a holiday. It started in England when the Pilgrims grew tired of religious persecution. They later got on a boat called the Mayflower, and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. A Native American tribe called Wampanoag helped the Pilgrims by teaching them to grow crops, hunt and dance.

After the Pilgrims first successful harvest they wanted to thank the Native Americans. To thank them, they hosted a party in 1621 and invited the Wampanoag chief Massasoit and 90 other Native Americans to a three day festival. At the festival they danced, hunted, and ate.

The food they had is very different from the food we have now. They did not have things such as pumpkin pie and potatoes. They had cranberries, but they did not know how to put it into a sauce yet. The Native Americans killed seven deer for the pilgrims, so venison was also on their menu, however they did not have turkeys for their meal. This festival later became known as the First Thanksgiving.

In 1789, George Washington announced the first Thanksgiving holiday. This happened on November 26th, 1789, but Thanksgiving did not become an annual holiday until the 19th century. In 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale, who is known for writing the nursery rhyme Mary
, was inspired by Diary
to create a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. This campaign lasted for 30 years. She published many recipes including some for pumpkin pie, turkey, and stuffing.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln announced the nation would celebrate Thanksgiving every year on the last Thursday of November. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up one week to give more time for people to go Christmas shopping. The people has refused to honor FDR’s declaration. Two years later he admitted that he made a mistake and signed a bill that made the fourth Thursday in November the official day of Thanksgiving.

George H.W. Bush granted the first official pardon to a turkey in 1989, and every year since the Presidents following has pardoned one or two turkeys a year to retirement on a farm instead of on the dinner table.

This is how we have made it to today’s modern Thanksgiving.

Categories: Culture

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