What is Thanksgiving Day?
Today, America's Thanksgiving Day is a day dedicated to "giving thanks," typically accustomed by the joining of family and friends to celebrate and share that what each is thankful for. Thanksgiving meals are "bountiful" and include staples such as turkey and pumpkin pie.
Timeline: Proclaiming the Last Thursday in November a National Day of Thanksgiving
1620 - The Pilgrims left England to escape religious persecution and landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. The first Pilgrims experienced a harsh Winter, which included the loss of nearly half of the original group that arrived on the Mayflower, as well as a poor harvest.
1621 - Pilgrims had a very successful harvest and decided that they would celebrate with a large feast and celeberation. The celebration even included a group of over 90 Indians that the Pilgrims credit with helping them survive the year.
1623 - Thanksgiving not observed due to a severe drought.
1676 - Thanksgiving had not been officiially celebrated since 1623. The governing council at Charlestown, MA voted unanimously to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. Unfortunately, Indians probably were not part of this feast as is also served to mark a recent victory over the Indians in recent battles.
1777 - All 13 of the original colonies joined in celebration of Thanksgiving Day.
1789 - George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving.
1817 - New York State adopted Thanksgiving as yearly custom.
1863 - President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving. It should be noted that Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor, campaigned for 40 years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Thanksgiving Day was declared a legal holiday by Congress in 1941 to be observed on the fourth Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving Day Food
In the USA, traditional Thanksgiving Day food includes:
- Pie (especially Pumkin Pie)
- Sweet Potatoes or Yams
Family members who are not able to share Thanksgiving with one another may find that a simple phone call is a good substitute. Calling loved ones allows the sharing of thanks and reflections upon times past.