The Story of Thanksgiving

Learn about the past and the present of thanksgiving  

 

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” —Irv Kupcinet

 

Thanksgiving is a great day for family and friends. People of all ages come together to give their thanks and stuff their bellies. Thanksgiving isn’t just a fun holiday. It also has a long history and important messages. Keep reading to learn more about The Story of Thanksgiving.

New Neighbors

Long ago in 1620, a group of English families disagreed with the church in England and decided to leave England on the English Ship “Mayflower”, in a quest for a new home with more religious freedom.

Mayflower landed in North America. The English Pilgrims settled down in what they named the “Plymouth Colony” after their last departure port. This place is now the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Mayflower
The Mayflower

However, that land was first inhabited by a Native American tribe called “The Wampanoags” who was extremely helpful and welcoming to the new neighbors: The Pilgrims

The English were still learning how to cope with the new harsh living conditions. The Wampanoags helped the Pilgrims to adjust to the new land by showing them how to gather food, fish and hunt, telling them what was good to eat and what was not.

The Wampanoags
The Wampanoags

The First Thanksgiving

A year later in 1621, The Wampanoags helped the Pilgrims grow up their first crop in the new land. So the Pilgrims hosted a great feast as a celebration of the good harvest and invited the Wampanoags who brought with them all of the bounties of the land and sea, such as Turkey, Deer, Rabbit, Mussels, Lobsters, Potatoes, Squash, Corn, beans and many other delicious foods. The Pilgrims were so appreciative of that they got on their knees, closed their eyes, and thanked God in their own way, so did The Wampanoags who thanked the Great Spirit for all of the blessings of food and drink that he granted.

And so, this became an annual tradition of coming together to feast and give thanks each in his own way and the Americans call it the “Thanksgiving Day”.

The first Thanksgiving
The first Thanksgiving

The Official Thanksgiving

On the 26th of November, 1789, President George Washington announced a day of public thanksgiving and prayer which was a Thursday. And so, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln remarked November’s last Thursday as a day of Thanksgiving. In 1941, Congress legalized Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day as national holidays.

Congress establishes Thanksgiving
Congress establishes Thanksgiving

Today’s Thanksgiving

As an official day off for schools and public service followed by Black Friday and with the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day games; the Thanksgiving holiday is called the long weekend which is considered the busiest season in the US; Travel highways, domestic flights and train stations are all loaded with people as many people go back home to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones.

Highways on Thanksgiving Day
Highways on Thanksgiving Day

Just as the first Thanksgiving was a way of celebrating the Pilgrims’ success in a new home, the holiday is still associated with a sense of coming home to spend the long weekend feasting, recalling the blessings of the passing year and joining together for some quality American football.

NFL Thanksgiving games
NFL Thanksgiving games

Get your plate

Thanksgiving dinner is the main star of this holiday. The roasted turkey is the dining table’s centerpiece as it was eaten on the very first Thanksgiving, along with the savory mashed potatoes, corn which was one of the crops that the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims to grow, cranberry sauce representing the Pilgrims bringing crops from England as cranberry is originally native to England, gravy and the crowed-pleasuring pumpkin pie.  While often associated with Halloween, pumpkins are also an essential part of Thanksgiving as they were another harvest crop associated with the original Thanksgiving.

It’s quite a tempting dinner!

Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving decoration
Thanksgiving decoration

Parades and Balloons

Many people travel to big cities to attend magnificent parades like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Chicago Thanksgiving Parade and H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade in Houston. Those parades march the same routes every year with live entertainment, giant balloons, marching bands and thousands of parade-goers.

Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thanksgiving Day Parade

New York City hosts the most famous Thanksgiving parade in the US and the biggest march ever with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. It has been going since 1924 with over 3 million people watching balloons up to five stories tall, Broadway theater performers and musical acts. The route starts at Central Park and ends on 34th Street in front of the Macy’s in Herald Square, sounds familiar! You may recognize it from the Christmas classic 1947 movie “Miracle on 34th Street”.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - New York
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - New York
Miracle on the 34th Street movie
Miracle on the 34th Street movie

The Accidental True Thanksgiving

In 2016, a grandmother named “Wanda” sent a message inviting her grandson over Thanksgiving dinner. But she was actually sending the invitation to the wrong number. Jamal Hinton was so confused by the mysterious number claiming to be his grandma until he figured it out and told the nice lady about the accidental text.

Jamal asked Wanda if he could still get a plate! Wanda replied kindly that it was her job as a grandmother to feed everyone on Thanksgiving. Wanda and her family consider Jamal a part of the family and they keep inviting him over for Thanksgiving dinner ever since.

It’s the story of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans all over again.

Jamal is invited to the Thanksgiving dinner by grandma Wanda ... again
Jamal is invited to the Thanksgiving dinner by grandma Wanda ... again




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