The History of Thanksgiving

The History of Thanksgiving

Mark Huerta , staff writer

Though many people don’t know its modified versions that were adopted throughout the years, this holiday is indeed worthy to be celebrated every November 24. Thanksgiving is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most conspicuous holidays. Though many people don’t know its modified versions that were adopted throughout the years, it is well known that this holiday should indeed be celebrated as a major holiday-worthy to be celebrated on Nov 24. Thanksgiving is a great holiday, with roasted turkeys on every corner. What many don’t know is its interesting history, including how it was first celebrated. 

As many already know, the Pilgrims settled on the Mayflower from Plymouth, England, and sailed to Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1620. There, they survived a vicious winter, where more than half of the original 102 passengers sadly perished. After the harsh winter, though, they ventured outside their ship and met some natives, one of which spoke English. This English was not the English we speak today though. He summoned Squanto, who taught them how to harvest corn, catch fish, and other life skills to help them with their stay. He also helped them with building an alliance with the Wampanoag tribe. After their first harvest was a success in 1621, Governor William Bradford, invited the colonists’ allies to a grand feast. Although there were around 140 people, many historians believe there were only five women at the feast. They had their next dinner in 1623, where they celebrated a great harvest, though a drought hit the area.

Today, Thanksgiving is typically celebrated with a large, roasted turkey, mouthwatering mashed potatoes, and other appetizing meals and desserts. Thanksgiving is also most likely represented by a turkey. The ironic part is that the pilgrims and natives most likely did NOT eat turkeys, though as of 2021, 44 million turkeys were served at a dinner table! Although turkeys are indeed native to America, there is no proof that they were feasted upon in the first thanksgiving. It is thought this misinformation was conducted by the Americas having an abundance of turkeys, thus lots of people began consuming them. 

Instead of dining on roasted turkey, they most likely consumed deer, mussels, pumpkins, and the plants they yielded that year.

In 1789, around 168 years after Thanksgiving, George Washington announced that Thanksgiving should be celebrated, and printed it in the US constitution. New York was one of many states that accepted and practiced Thanksgiving as a holiday in 1827, though each one celebrated this holiday on a different day. No one was really sure about the original date of Thanksgiving.

The famous magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale persuaded the US to make Thanksgiving into an official holiday after a long 36 years! She is commonly spoken of as “The Mother of Thanksgiving”, and it is easy to see why. 

Abraham Lincoln finally acknowledged her in 1863. Thanksgiving was set on Nov 24. This day was celebrated as Thanksgiving until 1939, when former president Roosevelt moved it up by one week to help with the great depression. It was changed to the fourth of November due to people not being happy about the change. It has been on the same day to this day.

Thanksgiving originally started when a couple of pilgrims went hunting, and they came back to find around 90 people from the Wampanoag tribe making a surprise visit. They all got along well, and eventually had a feast, which the Wampanoag contributed by sharing foods such as eels, shellfish, fish, vegetables, and more. Liquor was also present at the feast. As said before, there were only five women. The feats mostly took place outside, with people with plates on their laps. This feast contributed to a greater alliance with the tribe which would only end in King Phillips’s war.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, full of information that is not known to everyone. Although it has changed over the years, it’s definitely one holiday which many people look forward to.