A History of Thanksgiving in 3 Minutes

Do you know the history behind one of the most popular American holidays?

The feast in Plymouth was only the start. Let us take you back in time for the real story behind Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving is commonly attributed to a dinner in Plymouth, 1621, between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, incorporating a tradition from England called Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving. Governor of Plymouth Plantation William Bradford declared a day of thanksgiving for the harvest they reaped, and invited the local Wampanoag Indians.


Due thanks we give and are thankful / for every heaping plateful!

Turkey is the one food that can be connected from this dinner today, as wild turkeys were a regular part of the diet at Plymouth that fall.

Pumpkin pie started its roots from English colonists. Pumpkin was introduced to Europe in the 1500s, added to the tradition of filling crusts with vegetables, and English cookbooks featured pumpkin pie recipes beginning in the 1600s.

It took a long time for the Plymouth feast to spark a regular tradition. In 1789 George Washington declared the first nationwide thanksgiving in America, “by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God,” but only for that year.

According to one source, the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” Sarah Josepha Hale pushed to make Thanksgiving a regular holiday, and perhaps as a result of her encouragement Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a formal holiday in 1863. He asked Americans to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving.” This was during the Civil War, a time when giving thanks was much needed.

Later, Roosevelt and Congress officially set Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November to cater to what every American’s mind is really on this time of year: to extend the Christmas shopping season. Black Friday, anyone?Thanksgiving_1900

Today, the President of the United States pardons a turkey every year right before the holiday, and that turkey will be free to roam farmland freely. In fact, the first recorded event of pardoning a turkey was not out of sympathy for the turkey but because of the turkey’s smaller size. President Kennedy sent his gift turkey back from the National Turkey Federation, saying “We’ll just let this one grow.”

3 thoughts on “A History of Thanksgiving in 3 Minutes

  1. Pingback: Our Muscleheaded Turkey Day Extravaganza | The Muscleheaded Blog

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