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Thanksgiving Day History and How Did it Start?



thanksgiving day history

More than a century after President Lincoln declared every 4th Thursday of November to be a thanksgiving holiday, Americans have continued with this tradition. Thanksgiving Day history indicates that the natives celebrated it due to good harvests. However, most people now celebrate it by eating baked, roasted, or fried turkey and other food varieties. Besides that, most cities usually host parades. 

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a federal holiday in the US. It’s usually celebrated every fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving is important to the Americans because it’s a positive and secular holiday. Families and friends normally celebrate Thanksgiving Day holiday with gratitude.  

How Did Thanksgiving Start?

From the ancient days, the Native Americans, especially those who lived in the north, frequently held ceremonies. So, a thanksgiving day wasn’t something out of the ordinary because they used to give thanks for a successful harvest.  

The Wampanoag used to give thanks to the creator for the gift of life and a good growing season in the early spring. Besides that, they would give thanks for good fortunes. For instance, it could be due to childbirth.  

However, the arrival of Puritans and Pilgrims in America led to new thanksgiving traditions. To the Puritans, Thanksgiving Day was a period where they combined both religion and traditions. They prayed and fasted. 

The arrival of European colonialists and Spanish explorers also changed the way the natives celebrated thanksgiving. However, very few people knew about the thanksgiving events, and, therefore, they were isolated events. 

The events only became known too much to the public during the 20th century. Today, the American’s celebration of thanksgiving involves two traditions: the Puritan religious thanksgiving and the ancient English harvest festivals.  

How is Thanksgiving Celebrated?

The true history of Thanksgiving indicates that this is the time family and friends take to bond. The Thanksgiving Day history indicates that most Americans usually celebrate by gathering for a feast. Generally, the day is reserved for Americans to spend with loved ones and for giving thanks. 

Over the years, this celebration has lost most of its original religious significance. At the moment, it simply involves families cooking and sharing bountiful meals. Turkey is considered the main staple during this national holiday. In fact, it has become synonymous with it. 

Americans usually eat this bird as deep-fried, baked, or roasted, according to the information by the National Turkey Federation. People also feast on other traditional foodstuffs that involve stuffing, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and cranberry pie. 

Apart from eating, several volunteering activities usually go on. Most communities usually hold food drives. They also give free dinners to the less fortunate. 

History of Thanksgiving Becoming a National Holiday

Thanksgiving history facts indicate that this day became a national holiday in 1863. While expressing gratitude in Gettysburg for an important Union Army victory, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the US would celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday on 26th November 1863. 

President Lincoln’s speech was actually written by William Seward, the then secretary of state. It declared that the 4th Thursday of every November would become an official Thanksgiving holiday in the US. 

thanksgiving day history

This announcement had some relations during the times of George Washington during his first term. As the first president in 1789President Washington called it an official celebratory ay of public prayer and thanksgiving. Even though Congress agreed to this suggestion, the holiday didn’t make it to become an annual event. 

After President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was held annually between 1863 and 1939. However, things took a different turn during the reign of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the tail-end of the Depression, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November. 

He was hoping that this would help boost the economic depression by providing merchants and shoppers with a few extra days of shopping. Ideally, this was expected to be effective since this period would provide the public with a few extra business days before the Christmas holidays. 

However, Roosevelt was forced to change this. Congress was insistent that Thanksgiving Day should be on every fourth Thursday of November. So, in 194, the day was permanently reset as the official Thanksgiving holiday 

Thanksgiving Controversies

There are some Americans that don’t celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Even though most of the nation usually considers this an important day, this is a deeply controversial day. 

Thanksgiving Day history is quite contentious, and this goes far beyond the bonding and feasting that’s normally associated with it. 

To some people, this holiday is considered a cultural appropriation. It’s associated with the period of history in America where culture is white-washed. And as a result, some Americans ignore it.  

The Native Americans actually have a problem with how this day is presented to the public, especially the schoolchildrenAccording to them, the narrative that is currently available to the public is incorrect. It’s a deceptive narrative that gives a warm relationship between the Wampanoag people and the pilgrims. 

However, this isn’t true. These two groups of people have a long bloody history of conflicts that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. That’s why from 1970, protestors have been gathering on this day at the top of Cole’s Hill. To them, this is a day of “National Mourning”.  

Thanksgiving Day History: Final Thought

The Thanksgiving Day history indicates that this day was associated with bumper harvest and the gift of life. Only a secluded group of people used to celebrate it. However, the emergence of European colonialists as well as Spanish settlers, changed everything. 

Thanksgiving turned from a day of prayer and feasting to be a secular festival. Besides that, more people became aware of it. It’s now an annual national holiday that’s celebrated by millions of people in the US. 

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