When the small ship Mayflower left Plymouth in England, in September 1620, it sailed 66 days carrying 102 passengers. They were looking for a new home where they can freely practice their faith and find a home of prosperity in the New World. Known as Pilgrims, they settled on what is now Cape Cod bay, Massachusetts.
The first year for them was difficult, with an intense winter with disease, starvation and death of many Pilgrims. They received help from Native American, and after more than a year later, in November 1621, when the first corn harvest was successful, they organized a feast, known as the first Thanksgiving to thanks for the blessings. Pilgrims had their second Thanksgiving in 1623 and later the annual celebration became a common practice in other New England Settlement.
In 1789, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation, calling Americans to give thanks for the blessings of the harvest, marking the first official celebration of the holiday. In 1817 New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday.
Later, the writer Sarah Josepha Hale, known as “Mother of Thanksgiving”, launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. After more than three decades, she won the support of President Abraham Lincoln who in 1863, during the Civil War, scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. It was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to a week early. Due to the opposition, in 1941 the president signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November again.
Today Thanksgiving Day is a huge tradition, with special celebration in many churches, festivals and parades (the largest is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in New York, since 1924). In many American households, this is the perfect time to gather together and share a great meal with family and friends. Of course, it included Turkey, which is almost synonymous with the holiday, and also mashed potatoes, sweet potato, cornbread, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. The day after Thanksgiving, that we call “Black Friday”, is considered the start of the holiday shopping season.
Other countries as Canada, celebrate Thanksgiving with a variation of the festivities. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your country?
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