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Happy Thanksgiving

On the 4-th Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday honoring the early settlers and their harvest feast known as the first Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving

Native Americans

Long before settlers came to the East Coast of the United States, the area was inhabited by many native tribes.  The native people knew the land well.They had fished, hunted, and harvested for thousands of generations.

The Settlers

The people who comprised the Plymouth Colony were a group of English Protestants.They wanted to break away from the Church of England. These ‘separatists’ initially moved to Holland.After 12 years of financial problems, they received funding from English merchants to sail across the Atlantic to settle in a ‘New Land.’ A ship carrying 101 men, women, and children spent 66 days traveling the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the windy conditions, the group had to cut their trip short, so they settle at what is now called Cape Cod.

The Celebration

One day that fall, four settlers were sent to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The Wampanoag heard gunshots and alerted their leader, Massasoit, who thought the English might be preparing for war. Massasoit visited the English settlement with 90 of his men to see if the war rumor was true.

Soon after their visit, the Native Americans realized that the English were only hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent some of his own men to hunt deer for the feast and for three days, the English and native men, women, and children ate together. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, far from today’s traditional Thanksgiving feast.

Although prayers and thanks were probably offered at the 1621 harvest gathering, the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth happened two years later in 1623. On this occasion, the colonists gave thanks to God for rain after a two-month drought.

Native Americans and Thanksgiving

The peace between the Native Americans and settlers lasted for only a generation. The Wampanoag people do not share in the popular reverence for the traditional New England Thanksgiving. For them, the holiday is a reminder of betrayal and bloodshed. Since 1970, many native people have gathered at the statue of Massasoit in Plymouth, Massachusetts each Thanksgiving Day to remember their ancestors and the strength of the Wampanoag.

Modern Thanksgiving

In the 19th century, the modern Thanksgiving holiday started to take shape. In 1846, Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of a magazine called Godley’s Lady’s Book, campaigned for an annual national thanksgiving holiday after a passage about the harvest gathering of 1621 was discovered and incorrectly labeled as the first Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared two national Thanksgivings; one in August to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg and the other in November to give thanks for “general blessings.”

November 23, 2015 This post was written by Categories: HolidayIce Cream No comments yet


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