Thanksgiving Day History
What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. In Canada it is celebrated on the second Monday in October. In 2008, Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 26th in the US, and October 12th in Canada.
In the fall of 1621, settlers had a celebration with Native Americans that involved three days of feasting, but it was not called “Thanksgiving Day.” It was however a celebration of the bounty and the good relationship the two communities shared at the time.
Thanksgiving Day was only officially recognized when President Abraham Lincoln announced it was a national holiday to be celebrated in late November.
The Pilgrims came to what was then known only as the New World were initially from England, but left and moved to Holland in order to find more religious freedom. They were members of a Separatist Church, and soon became disillusioned with worldly life in Holland. They commissioned a company to give them a pilgrimage to the Americas. The Separatists, joined by members of that company, headed to Americas aboard the Mayflower, and landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620.
Of the original 102 Pilgrims on the Mayflower, 46 died during their first season. They were ill prepared for the harshness of New England winters. Those who did survive the winter made it in large part because of the help they received from the Native Americans.
The Indians helped the Pilgrims learn how to hunt, plant crops, and work the land for food, shelter, and security. As a result, the fall of 1621 brought a rich, much-needed harvest for the Pilgrims, who decided to celebrate their survival with 91 of their Native American neighbors.