History of Thanksgiving — Celebrating the First Thanksgiving Feast (1621)

Let us take a look at the History of Thanksgiving and how people celebrated the first thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving was a day when people took the opportunity to give thanks to our heavenly Father for the blessing of the harvest. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November of every year.

Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. Exodus 23:16

In 1621, the first Thanksgiving feast was held at the Plymouth Plantation, where the 53 Pilgrims (some say they referred to themselves as “Saints”) celebrated a successful harvest.

During the initial years, the Pilgrims had struggled to survive in the land. However, Squanto, a Patuxet Native American, and members of the Wampanoag tribe taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn and catch eel. The tribe people also provided food to the settlers during their first winter in the New World.

History of Thanksgiving — First Thanksgiving Feast in 1621

History of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day in 1621
The First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag King Massasoit with around 90 Native Americans observed the first growing season at Plymouth for three days. The event is supposed to have happened in the month of November.

The thanksgiving feast had an elaborate menu that included:

  • turkey, eel, partridge, deer,
  • swan, eagle, crane, duck,
  • cod, clams, venison, oysters, and
  • plums, berries, and Indian corn.

Let us be thankful to God for his mercy and enduring love for us.

History of Thanksgiving — A Brief Background of Thanksgiving Day

A small ship called the “Mayflower” set sail from Plymouth, England in September 1620. It carried 102 passengers who were seeking a new home for practicing their faith freely. They were strict Calvinists, but separatists (English dissenters), who separated from the Church of England in the 16th century. They were also attracted by the promise of land ownership in the New World. After sailing for 66 days, they reached the tip of Cape Cod and one month later they crossed the Massachusetts Bay and established a colony at Plymouth.

In 1789, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation and asked people to express their gratitude for the great and successful war of independence and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Sarah Josepha Hale, author and magazine editor, who wrote the very memorable nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” launched a campaign in 1827, to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she sent letters to various governors, senators, and presidents and wrote countless editorials earning her the nickname the “Mother of Thanksgiving.”

After almost 36 years of pleading, her request was conceded by President Abraham Lincoln, amidst the civil war, in 1873 who proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held on the final Thursday of November each year. He requested everyone to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

History of Thanksgiving — Why Is Thanksgiving Celebrated With Turkey?

Turkey became the traditional Thanksgiving main course because it was a treat in those days and an eight-to-ten pound bird costed a day’s wages during the 1830s. They are a celebratory symbol of bounty. Do you know that for their first meal on the Moon, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets?

Fun Facts:

Do you know that only male turkeys, named gobblers, actually use their throat to make the “gobble” sound, while female turkeys cackle instead?

Pumpkin pie has been a traditional part of Thanksgiving as they were a staple in New England at the turn of the 18th century. In 1705, due to a molasses shortage, the Connecticut town of Colchester postponed its Thanksgiving feast for a week.

We hope that you learned a lot about the history of thanksgiving and how we need to celebrate thanksgiving with a thankful heart and joyful soul.

Our articles on Historical Events will help you relive the events, which occurred during that period, and experience history like never before.

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