Throughout history, mankind has celebrated bountiful harvests with thanksgiving ceremonies.
The first American Thanksgiving was a celebration between the pilgrims of the Plymouth Plantation and the Native American Wampanoag tribe, which took place in the autumn of 1621. After a hard and devastating first year in the New World, the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. The original thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 13 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fish, shellfish, wild fowl, venison, berries, fruit, vegetables, harvest grains, beans, dried Indian maize or corn, and squash.
The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating thanksgivings—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victories or the end of a drought. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.
By the mid–1800s, many states observed a Thanksgiving holiday. Meanwhile, the poet and editor Sarah J. Hale had begun lobbying to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, looking for ways to unite the nation, discussed the subject with Hale, and in 1863 Lincoln gave his Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday in November a day of thanksgiving.
In 1939, 1940, and 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt, seeking to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, proclaimed Thanksgiving the third Thursday in November. Controversy followed, and Congress passed a joint resolution in 1941 decreeing that Thanksgiving should fall on the fourth Thursday of November, where it remains today.
Nowadays many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by spending time with family and friends while eating turkey and watching football, at least this is what I plan to do. Whatever you plan to do this holiday, I hope you give thanks for all the blessings bestowed to you and enjoy the time shared with loved ones.