Thanksgiving day is honored in the United States of America and Canada on the fourth Thursday of November every year. It was declared an official holiday by George Washington in 1789. But who invented it?
The Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621. The feast lasted three days and included such dishes as venison, oysters, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes.
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, amid the height of the Civil War, to be observed on the final Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1941. Since the 1970ties, it has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The idea of giving thanks for all the blessings in one’s life is ancient. In North America, Thanksgiving is often associated with good food and family gatherings.
The Real Story
The true history of Thanksgiving is a terrible story. On November 29, 1620, the Pilgrims who arrived in Plymouth Rock celebrated their first harvest by thanking God for their survival and blessings. They shared food with the Wampanoag tribe, who had helped them learn how to survive in America. The following year, they were asked to come back for a celebration, but when it came time to eat, many refused because of how thankful they felt for last year’s feast held in peace.
When one Pilgrim tasted the Wampanoag’s turkey and told others how delicious it was, they all tried and liked it so much that they began hunting turkeys to serve at their celebrations. Nowadays, we think of turkey as just being served as part of a traditional meal on Thanksgiving day.
What We Celebrate Today?
Today, Thanksgiving is a day for family gatherings and feasting on traditional Thanksgiving foods such as roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Many people do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but you may be surprised that some people celebrate it differently.
Some Native American tribes held Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival during this time, similar to the original celebration of the Pilgrims. One tribe celebrates with activities like canoe races, games, singing, dancing, and competitions in archery, shooting with bow and arrow, wrestling, and horse racing.
Why Are People Rethinking Thanksgiving?
For countless Americans, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, feast on turkey and pie, and give thanks for everything they have. But in recent years, some people have begun to rethink the holiday. For Native Americans, Thanksgiving reminds them of the violence and genocide their ancestors faced at the hands of European settlers. For black Americans, it’s a reminder of the slave labor that built this country.
Because of the real story of Thanksgiving, some people in America are rethinking celebrating the holiday. When Europeans first appeared in North America, the Native American population was decimated by war and disease. The enslaved Africans who helped build this country were dehumanized, beaten, raped, and murdered.
Some may say it’s unfair to associate these horrific events with Thanksgiving because there isn’t an explicit connection between them; however, these injustices cannot be separated from what has become an American tradition.