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Thanksgiving Becomes a Holiday

Thanksgiving Becomes a Holiday

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When did thanksgiving become a national holiday ? - What are the hot christmas items this year ?

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as a national holiday every November in the United States of America. However, many have forgotten the real tradition behind celebrating this festival. It was mainly celebrated to offer thanks and express the gratitude to Lord Almighty for having bestowed the family with blessings and showering His mercy. The pilgrims in Plymouth offered their first thanksgiving along with the Native Americans for having survived the winter. More.

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Kwanzaa is a unique festival in many ways. The 1960s was a period of turbulence and turmoil in the African American history. The blacks were constantly ignored and their contribution to the American society neglected. Terrible Watt&rsquos communal riots in the 1960s led to complete segregation and division in the African American community. More.

It is not very clear when the tradition of celebrating Valentines Day started. There are numerous stories associated with the day making it hard to pin point one particular theory. According to an ancient Roman story, it was believed that the then Roman Emperor, Claudius II passed an order stating that no young soldier should enter into a matrimony. He believed that young men could serve their kingdom better if they were unmarried. More.

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Christmas Eve is right around the corner. This is the season to spend some quality time with family and friends. Forget about your work pressure or professional life and catch up on all that you have missed out in the previous months. Gifts are an inseparable part of any celebration and Christmas is no different. Gifting something unique and surprising each time can get a little difficult. You do not want to be very predictable either. More.

Halloween is a very popular event or a festival in the United States of America. Children especially look forward to this event because they can dress up as scary characters and also collect goodies from homes in the neighborhood. Just like any other festival, even Halloween has a history that comes from age old traditions. Every country in the world has its own concept of Halloween traditions. However, how the whole concept of Halloween emerged is a mystery. More.

To the congregations of God

Illustration 9: H.J. RES 41, Congressional act that set the 4th Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

Making the fourth Thursday in November a legal holiday.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the fourth Thursday of November in each year after the year 1941 be known as Thanksgiving Day, and is hearby made a legal public holiday to all intents and purposes and in the same manner as the 1 st day of January, the 22 nd day of February, the 30 th day of May, the 4 th day of July, the first Monday of September, the 11 th day of November, and Christmas Day are now made by law public holidays.

Passed the House of Representatives October 6, 1941.

The history of Thanksgiving Day becomes splintered at points before 1941. It is a popular belief that President Lincoln started Thanksgiving Day, but he was simply the first President to proclaim a thanksgiving on the day requested by Sarah Hale for the purpose of a nationally unified day, this tradition survived until congress made it a national holiday.

In 1859 the Governors of the States united on the same day, and this Union Thanksgiving was enjoyed by the whole nation. But then came the war.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1874

Our late beloved and lamented President Lincoln recognized the truth of these ideas [A national Thanksgiving Day] as soon as they were presented to him. His reply to our appeal was a Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November, 1863, as the day of National Thanksgiving. But at that time, and also in November, 1864, he was not able to influence the States in rebellion, so that the festival was, necessarily, incomplete.

President Johnson has a happier lot. His voice can reach all American citizens. From East to West, from North to South, the whole country will be moved at his bidding at home or abroad, on sea or land, the appointed day will be welcomed as the seal of national peace and the harbinger of national blessings.

Thus our own ideal of an AMERICAN THANKSGIVING FESTIVAL* will be realized, as we described it in 1860. The 30th of November, 1865, will bring the consummation.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1865

Shall 1866 be the glorious year that establishes the custom forever, by the union now of every State and Territory on the 29th of November in this American National Thanksgiving?
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1866

The Day needs only the sanction of Congress to become established as an American Holiday, not only in the Republic, but wherever Americans meet throughout the world.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1869

WHEN the last Thursday in November shall become, by special enactment of Congress, THE AMERICAN NATIONAL THANKSGIVING DAY, then the people of the United States will have three holidays, each one representing an idea not only of importance to our own citizens, but also of interest to the world.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1870

We hope to see, before many months have elapsed, perhaps before our next Thanksgiving, the passage of an act by Congress appointing the last Thursday in November as a perpetual holiday,
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1871

Mrs. Hale was instrumental in persuading them [governors of the states] to appoint the last Thursday in November of that year for a State Thanksgiving. . She has urged, and still urges, Congress to pass a Joint Resolution, recommending the annual observance of the last Thursday of November as the day of National Thanksgiving, so that it may never be overlooked by any President.&rdquo
Let us feel that our great Home Festival is no longer an anniversary whose celebration depends upon thirty-seven State governments, or even upon the yearly inclination of the Executive. Let us have the day which Washington consecrated by his selection set apart forever as a season of Thanksgiving for the mercies and blessings of the year. Let the Forty-fifth Congress, in the name of the American people, enact that from henceforward the last Thursday in November shall be observed, throughout the length and breadth of our land, as the day of our National Thanksgiving.
Editor's Table, Godey's Lady's Book 1871

Illustration 10: H.R. 2224 1870, adopts Independence Day, Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving as national holidays. Thanksgiving was not yet given an annual date.

&ldquoany day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fast or thanksgiving shall be holidays&rdquo
H.R. 2224 1870 (emphasis added)

The act of 1870, the first to recognize Thanksgiving as a legal holiday, did not set a specific date, as it did for Christmas, New Years and the 4 th of July. But, just like these holidays, Thanksgiving had already been kept for hundreds of years before this, these acts of congress were only the legal adoptions of it. It's important to note that Congress made no distinctions between Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving. So we should consider if the label of &ldquolegal holiday&rdquo has any real bearing on the validity of a holiday?


Early thanksgiving observances Edit

Setting aside time to give thanks for one's blessings, along with holding feasts to celebrate a harvest, are both practices that long predate the European settlement of North America. The first documented thanksgiving services in territory currently belonging to the United States were conducted by Spaniards [16] [17] and the French in the 16th century. [18]

Thanksgiving services were routine in what became the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607, [19] with the first permanent settlement of Jamestown, Virginia holding a thanksgiving in 1610. [16] In 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia. The group's London Company charter specifically required "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned . in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." [20] [21] Three years later, after the Indian massacre of 1622, the Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned and colonists moved their celebration to Jamestown and other more secure spots. [ citation needed ]

External video
The True Story of the First Thanksgiving, American Experience, PBS, November 24, 2015 [22]

Harvest festival observed by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Edit

The most prominent historic thanksgiving event in American popular culture is the 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. Autumn or early winter feasts continued sporadically in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance and later as a civil tradition. [ citation needed ]

The Plymouth settlers, known as Pilgrims, had settled in land abandoned when all but one of the Patuxet Indians died in a disease outbreak. After a harsh winter killed half of the Plymouth settlers, the last surviving Patuxet, Tisquantum, more commonly known by the diminutive variant Squanto (who had learned English and avoided the plague as a slave in Europe), came in at the request of Samoset, the first Native American to encounter the Pilgrims. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them until he too succumbed to the disease a year later. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit also gave food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient. [ citation needed ]

The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The exact time is unknown, but James Baker, the Plimoth Plantation vice president of research, stated in 1996, "The event occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around Michaelmas (Sept. 29), the traditional time." [23] Seventeenth-century accounts do not identify this as a Thanksgiving observance, rather it followed the harvest. It included 50 people who were on the Mayflower (all who remained of the 100 who had landed) and 90 Native Americans. [23] The feast was cooked by the four adult Pilgrim women who survived their first winter in the New World (Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White), along with young daughters and male and female servants. [23] [24]

Two colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists (English Dissenters), are not to be confused with Puritans, who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony on the Shawmut Peninsula (current day Boston) in 1630. [25] [26] Both groups were strict Calvinists, but differed in their views regarding the Church of England. Puritans wished to remain in the Anglican Church and reform it, while the Pilgrims wanted complete separation from the church. [27]

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they can be used (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterward write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports. [28]

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you, partakers of our plenty. [30]

The Pilgrims held a true Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 [31] [32] following a fast [33] and a refreshing 14-day rain, [34] which resulted in a larger harvest. William DeLoss Love calculates that this thanksgiving was made on Wednesday, July 30, 1623, a day before the arrival of a supply ship with more colonists, [33] but before the fall harvest. In Love's opinion this 1623 thanksgiving was significant because the order to recognize the event was from civil authority [35] (Governor Bradford), and not from the church, making it likely the first civil recognition of Thanksgiving in New England. [33]

Referring to the 1623 harvest after the nearly catastrophic drought, Bradford wrote:

And afterward the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with the interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving . By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty . for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had . pretty well . so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day. [36]

These firsthand accounts do not appear to have contributed to the early development of the holiday. Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation" was not published until the 1850s. The booklet "Mourt's Relation" was summarized by other publications without the now-familiar thanksgiving story. By the eighteenth century, the original booklet appeared to be lost or forgotten a copy was rediscovered in Philadelphia in 1820, with the first full reprinting in 1841. In a footnote the editor, Alexander Young, was the first person to identify the 1621 feast as the first Thanksgiving. [37]

According to historian James Baker, debates over where any "first Thanksgiving" took place on modern American territory are a "tempest in a beanpot". [37] Jeremy Bang claims, "Local boosters in Virginia, Florida, and Texas promote their own colonists, who (like many people getting off a boat) gave thanks for setting foot again on dry land." [38] Baker claims, "the American holiday's true origin was the New England Calvinist Thanksgiving. Never coupled with a Sabbath meeting, the Puritan observances were special days set aside during the week for thanksgiving and praise in response to God's providence." [37]

President John F. Kennedy issued Proclamation 3560 on November 5, 1963: "Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God." [39]

The Revolutionary War Edit

The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777 from its temporary location in York, Pennsylvania, while the British occupied the national capital at Philadelphia. Delegate Samuel Adams created the first draft. Congress then adopted the final version:

For as much as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it had pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these United States to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth Day of December next, for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please God through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, Independence and Peace: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth "in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

George Washington, leader of the revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a Thanksgiving in December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga. [40]

Thanksgiving proclamations in the early Republic Edit

The Continental Congress, the legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, issued several "national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving", [41] a practice that was continued by presidents Washington and Adams under the Constitution, and has manifested itself in the established American observances of Thanksgiving and the National Day of Prayer today. [42] This proclamation was published in The Independent Gazetteer, or the Chronicle of Freedom, on November 5, 1782, the first being observed on November 28, 1782:

By the United States in Congress assembled, PROCLAMATION.

It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the giver of all good, for His gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner, to give Him praise for His goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of His Providence in their behalf therefore, the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of Divine goodness to these States in the course of the important conflict, in which they have been so long engaged the present happy and promising state of public affairs, and the events of the war in the course of the year now drawing to a close particularly the harmony of the public Councils which is so necessary to the success of the public cause the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them the success of the arms of the United States and those of their allies and the acknowledgment of their Independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States Do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe and request the several states to interpose their authority, in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next as a day of SOLEMN THANKSGIVING to GOD for all His mercies and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.

Done in Congress at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.

JOHN HANSON, President. CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary. [41]

On Thursday, September 24, 1789, the first House of Representatives voted to recommend the First Amendment of the newly drafted Constitution to the states for ratification. The next day, Congressman Elias Boudinot from New Jersey proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for "the many signal favors of Almighty God". Boudinot said he "could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them." [43]

As President, on October 3, 1789, George Washington made the following proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. [44]

On January 1, 1795, Washington proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day to be observed on Thursday, February 19.

President John Adams declared Thanksgivings in 1798 and 1799. As Thomas Jefferson was a deist and a skeptic of the idea of divine intervention, he did not declare any thanksgiving days during his presidency. James Madison renewed the tradition in 1814, in response to resolutions of Congress, at the close of the War of 1812. Caleb Strong, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, declared the holiday in 1813, "for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer" for Thursday, November 25 of that year. [45]

Madison also declared the holiday twice in 1815 however, neither of these was celebrated in autumn. In 1816, Governor Plumer of New Hampshire appointed Thursday, November 14 to be observed as a day of Public Thanksgiving and Governor Brooks of Massachusetts appointed Thursday, November 28 to be "observed throughout that State as a day of Thanksgiving". [46]

A thanksgiving day was annually appointed by the governor of New York, De Witt Clinton, in 1817. In 1830, the New York State Legislature officially sanctioned thanksgiving as a holiday, making New York the first state outside of New England to do so. [47]

In 1846, Sara Josepha Hale began a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, to be held on the last Thursday in November. She wrote to presidents, members of Congress, and every governor of every state and territory for the next seventeen years to promote the idea, as well as popularizing it in her books and editorials. Hale hoped that Thanksgiving, as a national holiday, would foster the “moral and social reunion of Americans.” [48] She also proposed that churches mark the holiday by collecting funds for the purchasing of slaves and their education and repatriation back to Africa. [48] By 1860 proclamations appointing a day of thanksgiving were issued by the governors of thirty states and three territories. [48]

Thanksgiving fun facts: How the holiday has changed through the years

Learn how to make your own freshly ground pumpkin spice at home. Grateful

The year is 1919. Many families are spending their first Thanksgiving dinner together since World War I began. It’s a time of celebration, hope, and defined gender roles. Oh, how things have changed! (Except for the menu. The menu hasn’t really changed.) Here’s a look at Thanksgiving over the past 100 years.

Family All Together Eating Christmas Dinner At Home (Photo: monkeybusinessimages, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The first Thanksgiving meal was prepared 100% by women (only four of them, to be exact). Today, the duties are split a little more evenly with 84% of men helping with the meal in some way, and 42% of men cooking the actual turkey.

The prohibition era was just getting started in 1919, which surprisingly (or not!), birthed some delicious cocktails that Americans still consume on the regular. Highballs, French 75s, Sidecars … the list goes on. People back then were more apt to consume these cocktails in secret, though — not around the Thanksgiving table.

Fast-forward 100 years, and we’re drinking everything at the Thanksgiving table: apple cider mimosas, pumpkin pie martinis, and wine. Lots of wine.


It’s hard to pin down exactly when Friendsgiving became a thing. Some say it began in 2008 when the economy took a nosedive, and millenials who had moved to urban areas could no longer afford plane tickets back to their hometowns.

Others argue that the TV show Friends created Friendsgiving. The term was coined by Urban Dictionary in 2009, so it’s been a thing for at least a decade, and it doesn’t necessarily take place on Thanksgiving Thursday.

Although 88% of Americans consume turkey on Thanksgiving Day, the first Thanksgiving in 1621 most likely featured deer or fowl as the main dish. Writer Sarah Josepha Hale (author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) can take most of the credit for turkey’s Thanksgiving takeover. She campaigned heavily for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday and even included an entire chapter on turkey as the main dish in her book “Northwood: A Tale of New England” in 1827.

As shown in this menu from 1919, the meal remains similar in 2019: turkey, a cranberry dish, mashed potatoes, creamed cauliflower (a trendy replacement for mashed potatoes), pumpkin pie … not a lot has changed.


Thanksgiving may be a huge day for food consumption, but it’s also the most popular day of the year to run in a race. Thanksgiving 5Ks — “Turkey trots” — have been around since 1896, when the Buffalo YMCA hosted their first holiday 8K. These days, more than 14,000 runners will run in more than 1,000 turkey trots all over America.


Although the dismal origins of Black Friday go back to 1869, only in the last decade have stores begun to open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day — amidst massive backlash from consumers and employees.

Whatever your feelings are toward shopping on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday, most Americans can get behind Small Business Saturday. American Express came up with the idea in 2010 to encourage spending in local shops during the holiday weekend.


We are definitely not in the prohibition era anymore. Given that many Americans don’t work on Thanksgiving Day and a fair amount of college students come home for the holiday, the night before Thanksgiving has become a night of binge drinking for many. In 2006, the term Black Wednesday (aka Blackout Wednesday or Thanksgiving Eve) was coined since then, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognizes it as the deadliest holiday of the year because of an increased number of drunk drivers on the road. MADD even partnered with Uber last year to offer free rides on Thanksgiving Eve in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The first official Thanksgiving NFL game took place between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears in 1934, but playing football on this particular holiday can be traced back to 1869. Since 2006, this day has turned into a triple-game day with more than 30 million viewers tuning in post-feast.

This year, no matter who you choose to celebrate with (family or friends), what you choose to do (run a race or go shopping), or what you choose to eat (probably turkey), stay safe and enjoy this moment in history.

Now, more and more people are growing their own herbs and vegetables for homemade dinners. Learn how you can do it in the video below.

Traditions: How Thanksgiving became an official holiday

Turkey Day just wouldn't seem the same without a side of football and the Macy’s parade. USA TODAY Network looks at how these and other holiday traditions began.

Wearing the Indian and Pilgrim costumes they fashioned to recreate the first Thanksgiving, kindergarten students at Virginia Avenue Charlotte DeHart Elementary School in Winchester, Va. enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings for lunch on Nov. 20. (Photo: Jeff Taylor, AP)

Every year families gather around tables across the USA to celebrate Thanksgiving. But how did it become an official holiday?

The idea of creating a formal national holiday originated with Abraham Lincoln.

In an 1863 proclamation — amid the still-raging Civil War — Lincoln designated Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

"He's the father of the whole idea of a nation giving thanks for its advantages and privileges of living in a democracy like this," Harold Holzer, historian and chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation told USA TODAY.

Traditions: Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade explained

The proclamation served another purpose for Lincoln. "He was always looking for ways to unify the nation in a terrible time of war," biographer Ronald C. White Jr. told USA TODAY.

From the book "Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay and the War for Lincoln’s Image," by Joshua Zeitz. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Decades later, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week, to the third Thursday of November, in part to lengthen the amount of time for holiday shopping.

Some states still insisted on celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Thursday, so eventually Congress stepped in.

On Dec. 26, 1941, less than a month after the attack at Pearl Harbor, Congress passed a law declaring the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

Here are some other facts you might not know:

Informally, the U.S. government had recognized periodic days of thanksgiving from the start of the country's inception.

In 1777, a year after the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress declared a day of thanksgiving to celebrate a Revolutionary War victory over the British.

When Did Thanksgiving Become A National Holiday ?

Thanksgiving Day has a long history. In fact, this day was celebrated even before America got independence. The Native Indians are credited for beginning this tradition way back in 1621. Governor John Winthrop in 1630 declared a day of thanksgiving in his Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Before independence, this day assumed national importance because it brought in a lot of harmony and peace in the region. It united the citizens together against the colonial rule. The tradition of thanksgiving took a beating a year after America got independence. George Washington, the then American President declared November 26, 1789 as a day for offering &ldquothanksgiving and prayer&rdquo. Washington also stated that it was incumbent on all nations to offer their gratitude and prayer to Lord Almighty for having bestowed them with bounty and grace.

At the time of the American Revolution, the Continental Congress suggested that Thanksgiving Day be declared a national holiday. Unfortunately, this day was mainly celebrated for passing the Presidential Proclamation year after year. It was not largely successful in getting a national holiday status.

New York in 1817, made the Thanksgiving Day an annual ritual. Other states in the country soon followed and numerous states started observing Thanksgiving Day as a national day for offering prayers. Sarah Joseph Hale in the year 1827 led from the front and pressurized several Presidents into declaring the day as a national holiday. Abraham Lincoln is believed to have revived the tradition 45 years later. He declared his Presidential Proclamation and confirmed the day as a national holiday.

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as a national holiday every November in the United States of America. However, many have forgotten the real tradition behind celebrating this festival. It was mainly celebrated to offer thanks and express the gratitude to Lord Almighty for having bestowed the family with blessings and showering His mercy. The pilgrims in Plymouth offered their first thanksgiving along with the Native Americans for having survived the winter. More..

Happy National Genocide (Thanksgiving) Day!

Thanksgiving has never been a celebratory holiday in my family. Whenever my family did cook we always gave thanks that all the Native Americans weren't wiped out when Columbus "discovered" America. I never understood why my family was so against Thanksgiving. In school we drew turkeys with our hands and it was a happy time. It meant a couple of days off from school. My teachers made it seem like Thanksgiving was a holiday to look forward to. The New York City public education system told me what Thanksgiving was all about. I was very careful to regurgitate what they taught me when tested so I wouldn't get a failing grade. When I was older though I was told the truth by my family.

My great, great, great, great grandfather was a part of a band of Black Indians in Florida, hence my unique and Native American-sounding last name. It seems I come from a long line of warriors and activists. I am a revolutionary not by choice but by lineage. When I did finally learn, there was no stopping me. Whenever someone asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving I proudly stated that I no longer celebrate it. Thanksgiving day should be known as National Land Theft and American Genocide Day.

I learned that in 1637 the body of a white man was discovered dead in a boat. Armed settlers -- which we tell our children were God fearing, gentle, sharing, kind Pilgrims -- invaded a Pequot village. They also set the village, which included many children, on fire. Those who were lucky enough to escape the fire were systematically sought, hunted down and killed. While many, including historians, still debate what exactly happened this day, also known as the Pequot Massacre, it directly led to the creation of "Thanksgiving Day." This is what the governor of Bay Colony had to say days after the massacre, "A day of thanksgiving. Thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children."

William B. Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chairman of the Anthropology Department at the University of Connecticut stated, "Gathered in this place of meeting, they were attacked by mercenaries and English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth were shot down, The rest were burned alive in the building. The very next day the governor declared a Thanksgiving Day. For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won."

When I finally found out the origins of Thanksgiving it made me nauseous. Never again will I celebrate a holiday I know nothing about until I investigate its origins. I am very thankful, pun intended, that I learned about the origins of this holiday. It is a reminder that history can be rewritten and if told enough times eventually becomes the truth!

People always tell me to forget the past. I should just let it go and move on. Why do people of color always have to forget?! Would you tell a Jewish person to forget about the holocaust and just move on?! Would you tell the family of those who lost their lives on 9/11 to just forget about it?! So why are our tragedies forgettable and others are not?! I WILL NEVER forget! I will ALWAYS honor those who lost their lives unjustifiable.

So when you sit down to dinner this year, look at your family, serve the food and tell each other what you are most thankful for, think about the origins of Thanksgiving. Think about the countless Native Americans who lost their lives so you can carve a turkey and get the best deals on Black Friday. Say a prayer for them, especially the children, who died simply because of the color of their skin.

Thanksgiving Becomes a Holiday - HISTORY

You may have heard about the first Thanksgiving, but the holiday did not become a national one until many years later. Do you know when and how Thanksgiving became a national holiday? It really is an interesting story and because of it each and every year on the fourth Thursday in November we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

You are probably well aware of the first Thanksgiving and how the Pilgrims and the Indians go together and gave thanks for the bountiful harvest. That was in 1621. However, the first Thanksgiving did not lead to a traditional holiday and certainly not to a national one since the nation didnt exactly exist. It did play a role, however, in what would come. Eventually Thanksgiving began being celebrated more and more as the country grew and people wanted to give thanks. A real American Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the entire country just after the Revolutionary War. But still, it was not a national holiday.

Then, when Abraham Lincoln was in office he declared the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day in 1863. That is when it finally became a national holiday. Every president since Lincoln has also declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.

In 1941 Congress set the national holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November. This reversed a decision by President Roosevelt to celebrate Thanksgiving on the third Thursday of November to give people more time to shop for Christmas.

Today, we all look forward to Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season. We celebrate friends, family, and prosperity and thank God for His blessings. Many families have different takes and traditions for Thanksgiving, but the overall theme is a family meal and giving thanks for all of lifes blessings.

Now you know how Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Most people think after the Pilgrims first Thanksgiving they continued giving thanks in this fashion each and every year and the tradition spread and eventually became a national holiday. But, it didnt happen that way. It was many years after the first Thanksgiving that Lincoln declared a national holiday and then many years after that when it became permanently celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November.

The Thanksgiving Story You’ve Probably Never Heard

Not everyone confessed the Pilgrim creed at the first gathering of what would become our national holiday. Maybe we don’t have the pilgrims alone to thank for democracy.

Mr. Kelly is the author of “Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin.”

The pilgrim William Bradford tells us about the first Thanksgiving. Winter was brutal. Snowbound in their hastily built houses, nearly every settler got sick all were hungry, and half died. Spring followed, and with the help of Indians, the survivors reaped their first American harvest. English hunters went fowling in the woods, Massasoit brought in deer and about 90 Wampanoags, and everyone played games together and feasted for three days.

No matter when our families emigrated to America, we acknowledge these spiritual ancestors in a national rite every November, when we crowd around our dining room tables and feast on a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and fixings.

As Nathaniel Philbrick put it in his best-selling “Mayflower,” those odd, quaint fellows who had big-buckled shoes and hunted turkey with blunderbusses have come to “symbolize all that is good about America.”

But the pilgrims (Bradford called them “saints”) weren’t the only settlers at the feast. Troublesome “strangers” who did not confess the Pilgrim creed were there, too.

One of the strangers was the historical figure you should be thinking about this Thanksgiving. You’ve probably never heard of Stephen Hopkins. He might change the way you think about the national holiday.

We don’t know very much about him. Hopkins was born in 1581, about the same time Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in Stratford. His family was neither poor nor rich. As a young man, Hopkins leased a farm, married, had children and lost his lease, and perhaps to mend his fortunes in 1609 he joined 500 other settlers headed for Jamestown, Va.

They sailed into a hurricane. Most of the ships staggered into Chesapeake Bay with shaken passengers and sea-sodden cargoes, but the flagship, the Sea Venture, never arrived. Its disappearance triggered the notorious “starving time” at Jamestown.

The Sea Venture didn’t sink. Sailors and passengers bailed water for three days and nights until their tired bones could work no more. Just as they gave in to drowning, the ship ran aground on a shoal in the Mid-Atlantic. Across a lagoon, about a mile away, the cedars of Bermuda beckoned.

One hundred-fifty survivors found themselves marooned in a Garden of Eden. The uninhabited islands were full of pigs, fowl, fruit and fish. No turkey but plenty of pork to roast. Why not stay?

Reasoning things out, Stephen Hopkins stumbled upon the idea that made America. The Virginia Company failed to deliver the settlers to Jamestown, he argued, which released the settlers from their contract. The shipwreck dissolved it. The castaways were free to work for the company if they wanted, or they could choose to work for themselves.


On the deserted island, Hopkins came up with the social-contract theory of government about 40 years before Thomas Hobbes would write “Leviathan,” almost 80 years before John Locke wrote his “Two Treatises of Government” and 166 years before Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

In the wilderness of Bermuda, Hopkins persuaded most of the settlers to form a fledgling democracy.

But the company wouldn’t have it. The governor insisted they were still under contract and must help build a ship that would carry them to Jamestown. He gave orders. The settlers dragged their feet. He threatened. They fled into the woods. Finally, the governor and his cronies turned Bermuda into a slave labor camp, and after nine months, under the threat of guns, the castaways were forced to embark for Virginia.

For his part in the “mutiny,” Hopkins was sentenced to death, but he talked his way to clemency. He kept his head down. He served out his term of years, and then he returned to England. Shakespeare mocked and misrepresented his political theory in one of the last plays he ever wrote, “The Tempest,” but otherwise Hopkins fell out of history. At least for 10 years.

Anchored off the coast of Massachusetts, William Bradford tells us, some “discontented” strangers started spreading a “mutinous” argument: Because the Mayflower had drifted so far off course, it was beyond the scope of the company’s patent. “When they came ashore,” the strangers insisted, they could “use their own liberty” to form a new government.

On Nov. 21, 1620, a remarkable document did just that. “We whose names are underwritten,” it said, “covenant and combine ourselves into a civil body politic.” We know this document today as the Mayflower Compact, a flagstone on the road to the United States Constitution. Forty-one men signed it, both saints and strangers.

Bradford said the “saints” wrote the compact to bring the “strangers” in line, and Philbrick claims that the compact was modeled on the “spiritual covenant” that had bound the pilgrims together in Holland. His later book, “Bunker Hill,” treats the American Revolution as if it were the end of a pilgrims’ progress. Boston in 1776 was the “shining city on a hill” prophesied by John Winthrop.

There’s nothing radical about this version of history. Scholars have been telling us for the last hundred years that we can thank the pilgrims for democracy.

And yet, I’ve always thought it was a little odd that those secular ideals of natural rights so perfectly articulated by Thomas Jefferson started with people who outlawed dissent. Was freedom of religion really invented by people who hunted witches? Did our distinctly American notions of economic liberty come from people who scolded the poor for being discontent? Did democracy grow out of righteousness?

Probably not. It turns out that one of the Mayflower Compact’s signers was a man named Stephen Hopkins. Most scholars today think he was the same Hopkins who was marooned on Bermuda, and that puts a new spin on the story. After all, the strangers’ complaints about invalid company “patents” and settlers’ liberty sound exactly like Hopkins’s argument in Bermuda. And the Mayflower Compact itself establishes the same government of mutual consent that Hopkins nearly died trying to secure.

We’ve taken the Mayflower tale as gospel truth ever since it was rediscovered in the 1840s. But Hopkins’s story suggests that we ought to take Bradford with a grain of salt. If we read with the slightest suspicion, we’ll give credit where credit is due: More than likely, the Mayflower Compact was designed to protect the liberty of strangers from the tyranny of saints.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking of ourselves as the descendants of strangers, the castaways of Jamestown and the unanointed of Plymouth Plantation. Starting this Thanksgiving, maybe we should eat barbecue.

Joseph Kelly, a professor of Irish and Irish American studies at the College of Charleston, is the author of “Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin.”

Watch the video: PBS NewsHour full episode, Oct. 15, 2021 (August 2022).