A Brief History of Thanksgiving

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Posted by Jessica | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 21-11-2011

Courtesy www.eiu.edu

Courtesy www.eiu.edu

Ever wonder where our annual Thanksgiving holiday comes from? Sure, we all wore a pilgrim hat or a Native American headdress sometime in elementary school, but do we really know the story of the real Thanksgiving? Here’s a brief timeline.

  • What is often called the first Thanksgiving is the 1621 harvest festival shared between the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians. This is the story of Squanto you remember from grade school—he taught the ailing Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, collect maple sap and catch fish. He also helped forge the alliance between the Wampanoag and the settlers.
  • In 1777, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first national day of thanksgiving, a tradition followed by our first presidents. In later years, the day would vary among different states, and the holiday was not a fixed national event.
  • Abraham Lincoln set the first national Thanksgiving in 1863 as the last Thursday in November, partly in response to the dogged efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, who launched a 36-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to politicians, asking them to establish a national thanksgiving holiday.
  • Nearly a century later in 1941, Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday back a week to add a little more time to the Christmas buying season. And that’s how we came to have the Thanksgiving Day we do today.

So that’s why we celebrate when we do. Over time, our traditions have changed, and every family’s approach to the holiday is just a little different. But most importantly, it’s a time to be together and enjoy a moment of celebration. It’s a time to break out your favorite kitchen décor and dinnerware and simply enjoy a meal with family. So here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving. We hope your holiday is perfect.