Thanksgiving History

I was going to wait until later in the month to write this, but since i am searching for an idea I chose to make this my topic for today. Thanksgiving is not too far away. I am looking forward to that big meal of turkey, stuffing and all of the finings. By then I will have had at least two Thanksgiving meals, but that’s OK.

I am sure that most of us know the story of Thanksgiving and its origins, but I thought I would look a little more closely at the history of why and how we celebrate.

Did you know…

  • George Washington, in 1789, called on people of the U.S. to acknowledge God for affording them “an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness” by observing a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer”. It became a yearly tradition in many communities.
  • Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863 during the Civil War when President Lincoln asked his fellow citizens “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise….”
  • In 1941 Congress designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, thus creating a federal holiday.
  • Native American harvest festivals had been celebrated for centuries. Thanksgiving, as we know it today, began in the early 1600swith the most widely known celebration being that of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, who feasted for 3 days with the Wampanoag people in 1621.
  • Turkey has become the traditional Thanksgiving fare because once it was a rare treat. During the 1830s, and 8- to 10- pound bird cost a day’s wages. I think in some stores it still does.

Anyway, these are some fun facts to mull over as you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast.



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10 responses to “Thanksgiving History

  1. I look forward to that Turkey feast, too. I’ll have at least two- one with my church family and on Thanksgiving day I’ll be with daughter and son-in-law, siblings and sibs-in-law, nieces and nephews and in-laws and great-nieces and nephews. Nice to have the generations together, though we now miss our older generation. My siblings and I are the older generation now.

    • I know what you mean about being the older generation. Most of my family is scattered throughout the country so we don’t get together nearly as much as we once did.

  2. Terje

    Thanksgiving is a beautiful idea and name for a holiday. My students from USA noted that this is one holiday that does not include candy, presents or a combination of the two. They decided that for a change it is good not to get anything and just be with the family.

  3. Trish

    Of all the holidays, this is my favorite. Religion is not inherently involved, though it could be, and gift giving isn’t part of the tradition either. Thanks for the facts.

  4. It is always nice to know some facts. So often I have heard people say that they don’t really know why they are performing certain rituals. They do it because it has always been done.

  5. It is nice to know how traditions start and why we do things the way we do.

  6. Thanksgiving is a family holiday and I thank you, Bob, for providing background information. Preparing a turkey dinner is a big feat but so rewarding. I am looking forward to spending time at my daughter’s house, prepping, and sitting down as a family. I wish you a wonderful lead into the celebration.

    • Carol, family is what it is all about, whether you are physically with them or if they are there in your thoughts. Kathy always wonders, as we prepare the stuffing, how many others around the country are doing the exact same thing.

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