The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast — including 91 natives who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives.
It lasted three days. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There was no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous.
They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion.
All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they can be used but afterward decreased by degrees. And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.
Edward Winslow , in Mourt's Relation wrote:. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.
And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
The Pilgrims held a true Thanksgiving celebration in   following a fast,  and a refreshing day rain  which resulted in a larger harvest. William DeLoss Love calculates that this thanksgiving was made on Wednesday, July 30, , a day before the arrival of a supply ship with more colonists,  but before the fall harvest.
In Love's opinion this thanksgiving was significant because the order to recognize the event was from civil authority  Governor Bradford , and not from the church, making it likely the first civil recognition of Thanksgiving in New England.
And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving… By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had … pretty well … so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day. These firsthand accounts do not appear to have contributed to the early development of the holiday.
Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation" was not published until the s. While the booklet "Mourt's Relation" was summarized by other publications without the now-familiar thanksgiving story. By the eighteenth century the original booklet appeared to be lost or forgotten. A copy was rediscovered in Philadelphia in , with the first full reprinting in In a footnote the editor, Alexander Young, was the first person to identify the feast as the first Thanksgiving. According to historian James Baker, debates over where any "first Thanksgiving" took place on modern American territory are a "tempest in a beanpot".
Never coupled with a Sabbath meeting, the Puritan observances were special days set aside during the week for thanksgiving and praise in response to God's providence. President John F. Kennedy issued Proclamation on November 5, stating, "Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God.
During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress appointed one or more thanksgiving days each year, each time recommending to the executives of the various states the observance of these days in their states. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in from its temporary location in York, Pennsylvania , while the British occupied the national capital at Philadelphia.
Delegate Samuel Adams created the first draft. Congress then adapted the final version:. For as much as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:.
And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion. George Washington , leader of the revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a Thanksgiving in December as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga.
The Continental-Confederation Congress , the legislative body that governed the United States from to , issued several "national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving",  a practice that was continued by presidents Washington and Adams under the Constitution, and has manifested itself in the established American observances of Thanksgiving and the National Day of Prayer today. Done in Congress at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.
On Thursday, September 24, , the first House of Representatives voted to recommend the First Amendment of the newly drafted Constitution to the states for ratification. The next day, Congressman Elias Boudinot from New Jersey proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for "the many signal favors of Almighty God". Boudinot said that he "could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.
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As President, on October 3, , George Washington made the following proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America:. Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations especially such as have shown kindness unto us and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord.
To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. President John Adams declared Thanksgivings in and As Thomas Jefferson was a deist and a skeptic of the idea of divine intervention , he did not declare any thanksgiving days during his presidency.
James Madison renewed the tradition in , in response to resolutions of Congress, at the close of the War of Caleb Strong, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts , declared the holiday in , "for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer" for Thursday, November 25 of that year. Madison also declared the holiday twice in ; however, neither of these was celebrated in autumn.
A thanksgiving day was annually appointed by the governor of New York from In the middle of the American Civil War , President Abraham Lincoln , prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale ,  proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the 26th, the final Thursday of November The document, written by Secretary of State William H.
Seward , reads as follows:. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three , and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
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Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln , October 3, Since , Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States. The holiday superseded Evacuation Day , a de facto national holiday that had been held on November 25 each year prior to the Civil War and commemorated the British withdrawal from the United States after the American Revolution. During the second half of the 19th century, Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from region to region. A traditional New England Thanksgiving, for example, consisted of a raffle held on Thanksgiving Eve in which the prizes were mainly geese or turkeys , a shooting match on Thanksgiving morning in which turkeys and chickens were used as targets , church services—and then the traditional feast, which consisted of some familiar Thanksgiving staples such as turkey and pumpkin pie, and some not-so-familiar dishes such as pigeon pie.
The earliest high school football rivalries took root in the late 19th century in Massachusetts, stemming from games played on Thanksgiving; professional football took root as a Thanksgiving staple during the sport's genesis in the s, and the tradition of Thanksgiving football both at the high school and professional level continues to this day.
In New York City, people would dress up in fanciful masks and costumes and roam the streets in merry-making mobs. By the beginning of the 20th century, these mobs had morphed [ citation needed ] into Ragamuffin parades consisting mostly of children dressed as "ragamuffins" in costumes of old and mismatched adult clothes and with deliberately smudged faces, but by the late s the tradition had diminished enough to only exist in its original form in a few communities around New York, with many of its traditions subsumed into the Halloween custom of trick-or-treating.
Abraham Lincoln's successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. But in , President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression , Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas.
Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression.
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At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. Fred Lazarus, Jr. Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln. People began referring to November 30 as the "Republican Thanksgiving" and November 23 as the "Democratic Thanksgiving" or " Franksgiving ". Since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, Roosevelt's change was widely disregarded. Twenty-three states went along with Roosevelt's recommendation, 22 did not, and some, like Texas , could not decide and took both days as government holidays.
In and , years in which November had four Thursdays, Roosevelt declared the third one as Thanksgiving.
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As in , some states went along with the change while others retained the traditional last-Thursday date. On October 6, , both houses of the U. Congress passed a joint resolution fixing the traditional last-Thursday date for the holiday beginning in However, in December of that year the Senate passed an amendment to the resolution that split the difference by requiring that Thanksgiving be observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November, which was usually the last Thursday and sometimes two years out of seven, on average the next to last. For several years some states continued to observe the last-Thursday date in years with five November Thursdays the next such year being , with Texas doing so as late as The poor are often provided with food at Thanksgiving time.
Most communities have annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods, and corporations sponsor charitable distributions of staple foods and Thanksgiving dinners. It is continued in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner , traditionally featuring turkey, playing a central role in the celebration of Thanksgiving. In the United States, certain kinds of food are traditionally served at Thanksgiving meals.
Turkey , usually roasted and stuffed but sometimes deep-fried instead , is typically the featured item on most Thanksgiving feast tables, so much so that Thanksgiving is also colloquially known as "Turkey Day. Mashed potatoes with gravy , stuffing , sweet potatoes , cranberry sauce , sweet corn , various fall vegetables, squash , Brussels sprouts and pumpkin pie are among the side dishes commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner.
Green bean casserole was introduced in and remains a favorite. All of these are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived. Turkey may be an exception. In his book Mayflower , Nathaniel Philbrick suggests that the Pilgrims might already have been familiar with turkey in England, even though the bird is native to the Americas.
The Spaniards had brought domesticated turkeys back from Central America in the early 17th century, and the birds soon became popular fare all over Europe, including England, where turkey as an alternative to the traditional goose became a "fixture at English Christmases". As a result of the size of Thanksgiving dinner, Americans eat more food on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. Thanksgiving was founded as a religious observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose.
The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in many forms, most notably the attendance of religious services, as well as the saying of a mealtime prayer before Thanksgiving dinner. Many houses of worship offer worship services and events on Thanksgiving themes the weekend before, the day of, or the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Before praying, it is a common practice at the dining table for "each person [to] tell one specific reason they're thankful to God that year. Joy Fisher, a Baptist writer, states that "this holiday takes on a spiritual emphasis and includes recognition of the source of the blessings they enjoy year round — a loving God.
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Hassaballa, an American Muslim scholar and physician, has written that Thanksgiving "is wholly consistent with Islamic principles" and that "few things are more Islamic than thanking God for His blessings". The parade features parade floats with specific themes, performances from Broadway musicals, large balloons of cartoon characters, TV personalities, and high school marching bands.
The float that traditionally ends the Macy's Parade is the Santa Claus float, the arrival of which is an unofficial sign of the beginning of the Christmas season. It is billed as the world's largest parade. The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade is the Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day Parade , which launched in and takes place in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia's parade was long associated with Gimbels , a prominent Macy's rival, until that store closed in Founded in , the same year as the Macy's parade, America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit is one of the largest parades in the country. The parade includes large balloons, marching bands, and various celebrity guests much like the Macy's parade and is nationally televised on various affiliate stations. The Mayor of Detroit closes the parade by giving Santa Claus a key to the city.
Most of these parades are televised on a local station, and some have small, usually regional, syndication networks; most also carry the parades via Internet television on the TV stations' websites. In this was switched to the Sunday following the holiday. American football is an important part of many Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States, a tradition that dates to the earliest era of the sport in the late 19th century.
Thanksgiving Day. History, Tradition, and Meal of the Holiday
The Detroit Lions have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day from to and again every year since For college football teams that participate in the highest level all teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision , as well as three teams in the historically black Southwestern Athletic Conference of the Championship Subdivision , the regular season ends on Thanksgiving weekend, and a team's final game is often against a regional or historic rival, such as the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn , the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State , the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State , and Michigan and Ohio State playing in their rivalry game.
The lower divisions of the game, including all of Divisions II and III, the NAIA, club football and the rest of the Championship Subdivision except the Ivy League , whose season ends before Thanksgiving [ citation needed ] , are in the midst of playoff tournaments over Thanksgiving weekend. Some high school football games which include some state championship games , and informal "Turkey Bowl" contests played by amateur groups and organizations, are frequently held on Thanksgiving weekend.
Amateur games typically follow less organized backyard-rules , two-hand touch or flag football styles. College basketball holds several elimination tournaments on over Thanksgiving weekend, before the conference season. The grateful pilgrims invited the Native Americans to join them for a huge harvest feast which has since become known as Thanksgiving. The tradition has continued for hundreds of years since and is celebrated with a lots of delicious food and wine. The story goes that back in Pilgrims landed on American soil and settled in an area they named Plymouth just south of where Boston is today.
Unfortunately for those who had immigrated, they settled in the beginning of what turned out to be a harsh winter, meaning rations were tight and times were hard. The tradition has continued for hundreds of years since and is celebrated with lots of delicious food and wine. A typical Thanksgiving menu consists of roast turkey, stuffing, cornbread, green bean casserole, roasted sweet potato casserole and winter vegetables - a plate that resembles a British Christmas dinner.
Each year, the President of the USA "pardons" at least one turkey, which becomes the national Thanksgiving bird that's granted reprieve from execution. From 9am to 11am Eastern time, revellers can watch numerous floats and entertainers make their way through the bustling streets.
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