Have you ever wondered how Thanksgiving came to be? You’ve probably heard it was a meal shared with Native Americans. While this is true, there is more to the story.
Thanksgiving really started out informally.
The first Thanksgiving was a traditional harvest festival in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Initially meant to be a one-time event, the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans gave thanks to their gods for the bountiful harvest.
From there, Thanksgiving evolved through the influence of the Puritan tradition of a religious “Day of Thanksgiving”. The day was traditionally spent in church and feasting nor entertainment were part of the celebration.
The yearly tradition began as many do, a government holiday. A special day of thanksgiving typically celebrated a great battle or the end of a significant event. Specifically, when King William and Queen Mary of England proclaimed a Thanksgiving for their victory over the French, it was celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November, specifically November 26, 1691.
Over the course of decades, colonial New England saw a merging of these traditions: a special day of feasting and prayer celebrated by family that gave thanks for health and for a successful harvest.
By the 1840’s, most states celebrated Thanksgiving, but not all on the same day.
Thanksgiving became a national holiday thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale, who in 1846 began a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. It was during the Civil War in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first annual national Thanksgiving.
To this day, the President of the United States still declares the Thanksgiving Holiday. A wholly American tradition, Thanksgiving has evolved into a secular celebration of health, life and well-being that is shared with family and friends.
We at Cafe 21 hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving.
source: Pilgrim Hall Museum