History of the First Thanksgiving


American’s celebrate Thanksgiving every year, but many do not know how the first Thanksgiving came about. Here is a brief history of the first Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has become one of the most cherished holidays in the United States and Canada bringing together family and friends from far away for a day of peace, food and celebration of all that is to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is a grand event with a modest beginning. Although the beginning of the Thanksgiving celebration is mostly associated with the Pilgrims, it has roots reaching further back than that. For many generations prior to the sailing of the Mayflower, Englishman were in the custom of celebrating major events such as a military success or receipt of much needed rain for crops by taking time to feast and thank god for the blessings. It is believed the practices observed during Thanksgiving where a model of celebrations in Plymouth long ago.

History of the First Thanksgiving: New Friendships Celebrated

In 1621 the Pilgrims had a great deal to be thankful for with a bountiful harvest due to their relationship with Squanto, an Indian translator for the English. Squanto spent time with the Pilgrims teaching them the skills of using things such as the remains of dried fish to fertilize the crops. This important information helped move the Pilgrims into a great crop season and laid the foundation for future success.

The Pilgrims soon made friends with their neighbors the Wampanoags. In the summer of 1621 the Chief of the Wampanoags, Massasoit, agreed to sign a treaty with the Pilgrims ensuring alliance. The Pilgrims and the Wampanoags found a beneficial trade with the Pilgrims teaching defense techniques to the Wampanoags and receiving in exchange added food supply. This made for a profitable relationship for both.

History of the First Thanksgiving: Time for Harvest

As the cooler weather approached the harvest began. Much to the pleasure of the Pilgrims their harvest was bountiful and they discovered how much they had to be grateful for. Out of the 102 passengers originally aboard the Mayflower, the 44 that made the passage safely had found great success in the journey. With the great success of the crops under their belt the Pilgrims invited Massasoit and nearly 90 Indians to join them in celebrating these great profits. This celebration lasted for days and became a tradition for years to come.

Finally, in 1863 United States President Lincoln decided that this celebration should become a national holiday called Thanksgiving. From that point on the holiday was celebrated by nearly everyone by gathering with friends and family and remembering all that is to be thankful for. Although the original purpose of Thanksgiving was one of religious intent, the holiday has become a time of showing caring and friendship to family, friends and strangers alike.