The History of Thanksgiving

Many Americans know Thanksgiving as the holiday in November where they get a few days off and lots of food. Thanksgiving, however, celebrates an event that many people do not know about.

In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower left England that was headed for the New World, seeking a place where they could freely practice their religion. They arrived at Plymouth where the Wamapoag people joined them for their harvest feast (Editors n.d.). Unlike what is tradition today, the items served were fish, vegetables, stews, and beer. This feast, which lasted for multiple days, is considered to be the first Thanksgiving. (“Thanksgiving Day | Meaning & History” n.d.).

It is important to acknowledge that the land that the Europeans settled in was inhabited by Wampoag people long before Europeans came to the Americans. In fact, there was only space because the diseases that Europeans introduced were fatal to thousands of Wamapoag people (“A Few Things You (Probably) Don’t Know about Thanksgiving” 2018).

However, Thanksgiving wasn’t declared a national holiday until October 3, 1863 during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

While the holiday had somewhat religious beginnings, in recent years, the holiday has moved away from its religious background to allow everyone to participate. Thanksgiving has become a time of gathering for all Americans.



“A Few Things You (Probably) Don’t Know about Thanksgiving.” 2018. National Geographic News. November 20, 2018.

Editors, History com. n.d. “Thanksgiving 2018.” HISTORY. Accessed November 18, 2018.

“Thanksgiving Day | Meaning & History.” n.d. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed November 18, 2018.