Origins of Thanksgiving

Piper Johnson, Staff Writer

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In September 1620, a ship called the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England.  There were all kinds of different people on board ranging from many religions.  They were all looking for a new home so that they could be free to practice their religions.  Some also came for the idea of having new land that no one has claimed.  Their journey lasted sixty six days and they sailed to the peninsula of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  After that, they started collecting supplies to build their new homes.  During the first winter, half of the pilgrims got sick and died from diseases due to the cold.  An Abenaki Indian and a Native American taught the pilgrims basic necessities including how to grow their own food, natural cures for sicknesses, and how to avoid poisonous plants.  During November 1621, Governor William Bradford put together a celebratory feast and included the Native Americans.  This event is what people refer to when they speak about the first Thanksgiving.  Their festival lasted three days with an assortment of different foods.  At the time of the American Revolution, the Continental Congress decided that there would be one or more days of Thanksgiving per year.  In 1789, George Washington announced that Thanksgiving would become a national holiday.  Years later, in 1817, New York was one of the first states to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, declared that Thanksgiving should be held on the last Thursday of November every year.  Years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt, moved Thanksgiving up one week, declaring it in the fourth week of November.  

Today, Thanksgiving is not celebrated the same as it was when it first started as a holiday.  We have lost the religious aspect to it,now we see it as a day to cook and share our food with family and friends.  Turkey became a traditional food of Thanksgiving in households throughout the years.  Other traditional foods include mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and the infamous pumpkin pie.  Lastly, a big part of Thanksgiving are the parades throughout America.  The most popular one is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City every year.  Thousands of people gather every year to 6th Avenue to see all the different floats and to hear performances by their favorite singers.   It brings a sense of unity to those who are celebrating what we are thankful for in life and throughout the year.  Thanksgiving has remained a national holiday so we can come together with our families every year and be around the people we love.