Thanksgiving: Why America Celebrates This Holiday

Thanksgiving: Why America Celebrates This Holiday


People in the United States often wonder why the country really celebrates Thanksgiving Day. They wonder what the real story behind it is even though most of them were taught the quaint little story of “Pilgrims and Indians” in elementary school. Thanksgiving has been declared a national holiday in America and it is considered as a day of giving thanks in return for all of the blessings received from the past year. America is not the only country to have such a celebration, but this is the only place where Thanksgiving is enjoyed on the fourth Thursday of November.  The holiday is based on religious and traditional principles but also is enjoyed from a worldly point-of-view as well.

Giving thanks for the year’s bountiful harvest and special rituals have been performed throughout the ages. With American Thanksgivings, the ceremony has roots which date all the way back to the English Protestant Reformation. The holiday also included parts of a harvest festival, even though crops in New England were taken in long before the late November Thanksgiving date.

The Thanksgiving holiday tradition seems most likely traced back to a poorly documented celebration held in the year 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Plymouth settlers and Wampanoag Indians had a fall harvest feast which is considered as one of the very first thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.

That thanksgiving came to be because of a good harvest that year. Both Puritans and pilgrims who had started coming over from England in the 1600’s held on to many traditions. There were numerous days in New England’s early history which could have been called the official “First Thanksgiving”. But the actual practice of having a yearly festival did not turn into a regular event in New England.

The Pilgrim Hall Museum, which is in Plymouth states that the 1621 festival happened only one time. The settlers never meant to start something that would be an annual gala. It also was actually much more secular than other puritan religious observations.

Everyone wonders what they dined on. It is true; they did eat turkey, among other birds such as duck and goose. They also had deer, berries, squash, fruit and yes… pumpkin. These are numerous items which are common on America’s tables today.

To have a Thanksgiving celebration was made the rule by leaders of various churches in New England up until around the 1680’. By this time, the state had also stepped in thanks in part to the American Revolution. During this time of war, political figures such as General George Washington, John Hancock and the Continental Congress were all giving thanks to God for events that ended up working out in their benefit. When Washington had become President of the United States, he declared that America should celebrate nationwide on November 26, 1789.

Even though President Washington chose that date for the first “national day of thanksgiving celebration”, the holiday has been celebrated on numerous dates throughout the years and there were different days celebrated by the individual colonies and states. However, the final Thursday in November was the usual date to celebrate by the time the 19th century rolled around although it did not become “official” for all the states in the Union in the year 1863 by President Lincoln. He wrote up a proclamation making it fact

One reason Lincoln wanted to do it was he wanted to try and give a sense of unity between the Northern and Southern states. The Civil War was going on at this time, so the Confederate States of America’s  did not pay attention to President Lincoln’s power. This caused a nationwide Thanksgiving date to not be recognized until the Reconstruction was finalized in the late 1870’s.

It was on the 26th of Dec. 1941 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a resolution that came from Congress which changed when the United States celebrated Thanksgiving Day. It was moved from the last Thursday to the fourth Thursday in November. It have been two years previous that President Roosevelt decided to use a presidential proclamation to attempt to do this change because he felt it would give the country some sort of boost in economics.

The Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated for many different reasons in America today.


By Kimberly Ruble


Christian Answers

 The Tribune Review


One Response to "Thanksgiving: Why America Celebrates This Holiday"

  1. tara   November 25, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    i love

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