When you think of Thanksgiving, several images normally come to mind, the Plymouth Pilgrims, Turkey, the Mayflower, a large dinner and at times professional football. Some may even think about Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving meal of popcorn and candy. But here we will explore some of the little known Facts of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a predominately United States tradition. It is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving is a celebration or Harvest Celebration to honor not only our loved ones, our country, our founders, our God, but to also honor our blessings.
The first Thanksgiving was in November of 1621 as the Plymouth, Massachusetts Pilgrims’ colony who sailed to America on the Mayflower were decimated by famine and disease. Their food supply was low, and the outlook of their survival was dismal.
Local American Native Indians, the Wampanoag tribe came to the rescue of the Pilgrims offering them food and taught them skills to survive in the New England environment. The Indians taught the Pilgrims how to plant and store food that would help them survive the harsh New England weather and conditions.
The actual first Thanksgiving was held between September 21, 1621 and November 11, 1621 between the 50 remaining Mayflower Pilgrims survivors and the 90 Wampanoag Indian tribe.
Americans informally celebrated the Thanksgiving Tradition throughout the years as different presidents declared a National Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were proclaimed annually by the US Congress from 1777 to 1783 which, except for 1782, were all celebrated in December. George Washington declared Thanksgiving in 1789 and 1795, and John Adams in 1798 and 1799. James Madison declared Thanksgiving twice in 1815. These celebrations were at random times of the year and none were taken place in the now traditional Autumn season.
Not until April 1862 was a national Thanksgiving declared, by Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, he declared Thanksgiving for 6 August, and for the last Thursday in November. President Lincoln went on to declare a similar Thanksgiving observance in 1864, establishing a precedent that was followed by Andrew Johnson in 1865 and by every subsequent president.
The United States made Thanksgiving an official Holiday and Celebration though Bill of Congress on November 26, 1941 signed by President Roosevelt.
Some other Thanksgiving Facts from various sources:
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
The Mayflower Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving in the New England Colonies.
The Pilgrims Mayflower ship arrived in North America in December 1620.
The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to reach North America.
They celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in the fall of 1621.
The Puritans brought beer with them on the Mayflower.
The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621 and invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians also to the feast.
The first Thanksgiving feast was held in the presence of around ninety Wampanoag Indians and the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, was also invited there.
The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in the year 1789 and again in 1795.
The state of New York officially made Thanksgiving Day an annual custom in 1817.
Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor with a magazine, started a Thanksgiving campaign in 1827 and it was result of her efforts that in 1863 Thanksgiving was observed as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer.
Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving. Whereas earlier the Presidents used to make an annual proclamation to specify the day when Thanksgiving was to be held.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored Thursday before last of November as Thanksgiving Day in the year 1939. He did so to make the Christmas shopping season longer and thus stimulate the economy of the state.
Congress passed an official proclamation in 1941 and declared that now onwards Thanksgiving will be observed as a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. But it was Thomas
Jefferson who opposed him. It is believed that Franklin then named the male turkey as ‘tom’ to spite Jefferson.
The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920’s.
Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
When the Pilgrims arrived in North America, the clothing of the Native Americans was made of animal skins (mainly deer skin).
On December 11, 1620 the first Pilgrims (or Puritans, as they were initially known) landed at Plymouth Rock.
By the fall of 1621 only half of the pilgrims, who had sailed on the Mayflower, survived. The survivors, thankful to be alive, decided to give a thanksgiving feast.