About Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving falls on the 4th Thursday of November month each year in the USA. It is a national holiday in countries like USA, Canada, Caribbean Islands, and Liberia. It was instigated as a harvest festival initially which meant people gave thanks for the blessings of the harvest of the preceding year. It became a national holiday since 1789 during the times of George Washington. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on 2nd Monday of October in Canada.

History of Thanksgiving

The prayers of thanking the nature and the Almighty are common on Thanksgiving occasion among all religions after a good harvest. This Thanksgiving Holiday of North America is rooted in the English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. In the English tradition, the thanksgiving religious services became a significant part during the English Reformation time in the reign of Henry VIII. The Americans believe that their Thanksgiving is modeled on that 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists or Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. This American holiday is mainly rich in legend and symbolism. Their traditional fare of the Thanksgiving meal typically includes turkey, potatoes, bread stuffing, pumpkin pie, and cranberries. The whole family generally meets at one place and enjoy a great day with a lovely meal.

Now, this Plymouth’s Thanksgiving started when a few colonists went out “fowling,” most probably for turkeys. And in one day they killed as many turkeys as killed in a whole week. Next Wampanoag in a group of 90 or so gathered at the Settlement’s gate and over the next few days, these two groups socialized. The Wampanoag donated fish, eels, shellfish, stews, vegetables, and beer to the feast. These men fired guns, ran races, and drank liquor while struggling to speak in broken English. This was a rather muddled affair, but it surely sealed a treaty between the two groups that lasted until King Philip’s War (1675–76), in which hundreds of colonists and thousands of Native Americans lost their lives.

The New England colonists were used to celebrate Thanksgiving on a regular basis. And the U.S. Continental Congress broadcasted a national Thanksgiving upon the enactment of the Constitution. But again after 1798, the new U.S. Congress left Thanksgiving declarations to the states. And then some people objected the government’s interference in their religious matters. So, at during time, the declaration of Thanksgiving Day was more like a controversy!

Till the time Northerners dominated the Federal Government, Thanksgiving Day did not become an official holiday. There were some sectional tensions in the mid-19th century and the editor of the renowned magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, Sarah Josepha Hale, crusaded for a national Thanksgiving Day to endorse unity. She finally went on to win the support of the then President Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, on 3rd October 1863, Abraham Lincoln announced a national Day of Thanksgiving would be celebrated on 26th November, Thursday.

After Abraham Lincoln, every President accepted this Thanksgiving Day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt made an attempt to extend the Christmas shopping season that begins with the Thanksgiving Holiday. To boost the economy, he moved this Thanksgiving to the 3rd Week of November but every state did not agree to that. After some discussions, Roosevelt declared that 4th Thursday of November would remain the day for Thanksgiving.

Now as the time has changed, people got busier than before and to earn a means of livelihood, many people stay apart from their family members. So, Thanksgiving is a time to gather and celebrate together. Since 1924 the Annual Macy’s parade in New York City has sustained the tradition, with huge balloons since 1927. The holiday associated with Pilgrims and Native Americans has come to symbolize intercultural peace, America’s opportunity for newcomers, and the sanctity of home and family.