Thanksgiving has been a time-honored tradition to everyone for generations; turkey, ham, stuffing, and all the rest of the things that make a Thanksgiving special. How many of you know the story behind the holiday; like many of us, we were taught in school that the pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and celebrated the first Thanksgiving on Plymouth Rock; but what about the whole United States? When did it really become a national holiday? Well, I decided to research this famous holiday and found what I was looking for; (it surprised me very much too) the following is according to Wikipedia, History of the First Thanksgiving by Graham, H. Woodlief, President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of October 3, 1863, The Year we had Two Thanksgivings by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and Primary Sources for the First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock.
Thanksgiving is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November. It’s sometimes called the American Thanksgiving outside the United States to distinguish it from the Canadian holiday of the same name and related celebrations in other regions. It originated as a day of Thanksgiving and a harvest festival with the theme of the holiday revolving around giving thanks. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims after their first harvest in a New World in October 1621; this piece lasted 3 days and was attended by 90 Wampanoag Native American people and 53 Pilgrims who were survivors of the Mayflower. A lesser-known celebration took place in Virginia in 1619 by English settlers who had just landed at Berkeley Hundred aboard the ship “Margaret”.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789 with a proclamation by President George Washington after a request by Congress; President Thomas Jefferson chose not to observe the holiday and its celebration was intermittent until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed in 1863, a national day of “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.
On January 6, 1885, an act by Congress made Thanksgiving and other federal holidays a paid holiday for all federal workers throughout the United states under the direction of resident Franklin D Roosevelt; the date was moved to one week earlier observed between 1939 and 1941 amid significant controversy then from 1942 onward, Thanksgiving by an act of Congress signed into law by FDR received permanent observation date which is the 4th Thursday in November and no longer at the discretion of the president.
Thanksgiving services were routine and what became the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607; first permanent settlement of Jamestown Virginia held a Thanksgiving in 1610 then on December 4, 1619; 38 English settlers celebrated a Thanksgiving immediately upon landing at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia. The groups London Company Charter specifically required “that the day our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as the day of Thanksgiving to almighty God”.
The most prominent and 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 fees continues sporadically in later years; first as an impromptu religious observance and later as a civil tradition. the Plymouth settlers known as pilgrims had settled in a 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 (commonly known as the Squanto who had learned English and avoided the plague as a slave in Europe) came in at the request of Samoset who was the first Native American to encounter the pilgrims. The pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after the first harvest of 1621, however the exact time is unknown. James Baker who was the Plimoth Plantation Vice President of Research stated in 1996, “the event occurred between September 21st and November 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around September 29th the traditional time. According to accounts by Wampanoag descendants, the harvest was originally set up for the pilgrims alone, the surviving natives (hearing celebratory gunfire and fearing war) arrived to see the feast and were warmly welcomed to join the celebration, contributing their own food to the meal.
According to historian James Baker, debate upon where any first Thanksgiving took place on modern American territory were a “tempest in a bean pot”. Baker claimed the American holidays true origin was the New England Calvinist Thanksgiving; never coupled with the Sabbath meeting the Puritan observances were special days set aside during the week for Thanksgiving and praises in response to God's Providence. 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. George Washington who was leader of the revenant locationary forces in the American Revolutionary War proclaimed a Thanksgiving and December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Sarasota. the Continental Congress which was the legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789 issued several national days of prayer humiliation and Thanksgiving which became a practice that was continued by presidents Washington and Adams under the constitution. On October 3, 1789, George Washington created a proclamation for the first Thanksgiving Day which was designated by the National Government of the United States of America.
On June 28, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the holidays act that made Thanksgiving a yearly appointed or remembered federal holiday in Washington DC; three other holidays were included in the law which were New Year's, Christmas and 4th of July. President Lincoln's successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving however, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition; November had five Thursdays that year, so Roosevelt declared the 4th Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one. The country was still in the midst of the Great Depression and Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas which would increase profits and spending during this time. Roosevelt also hoped it would help bring the country out of the depression. On October 6, 1941, both houses of the United States Congress passed a joint resolution fixing the traditional last Thursday date for the holiday beginning in 1942. In December of that year, the Senate passed an amendment to the resolution that split the difference by requiring that Thanksgiving be observed annually on the 4th Thursday of November in order to prevent confusion on the occasional years in which November had five Thursdays. The amendment also passed the House and on December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed this bill for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law and fixing a date of the 4th Thursday of November.
The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in many forms; most notably the attendance of religious services as well as the saying of a mealtime prayer before Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving, my flight Columbus Day is observed by some as a “National Day of Mourning” in acknowledgement of the genocide and conquest of Native Americans by colonists. Thanksgiving has long carried a distinct resonance for Native Americans who see the holiday as an embellishment story of “Pilgrims and Natives looking past their differences to break bread”. Thanksgiving also comes with some controversy which has been used to justify the Christmas creep (the act of putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving). Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England which is a protest group led by Frank James has accused the United States and European settlers of fabricating the Thanksgiving story and of whitewashing the genocide and injustice against Native Americans; which led to the National Day of Mourning protests on Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the name of social equality and in honor of political prisoners. Hundreds of supporters traveled to Alcatraz on November 27, 1969, to celebrate the occupation of Alcatraz by native Americans of all tribes. The American Indian Movement and the Native American Church both also hold a negative view of Thanksgiving; they have used it as a platform for protests and some Native Americans hold “Unthanksgiving Day” celebrations in which they mourn the deaths of their ancestors by fasting, dancing and praying. The move by retailers to begin holiday sales during Thanksgiving Day has been criticized as forcing low end retail workers (who compose an increasing share of the nation's workforce) to work odd hours and to handle a typical unruly crowd on a day reserved for rest. In response to this controversy, Macy's and Best Buy stated in 2014 that most of the Thanksgiving Day shifts were filled voluntarily by employees who would rather have the day after Thanksgiving off instead of Thanksgiving Day itself and by 2021, retailers had largely abandoned efforts to hold Thanksgiving doorbusters and returned their focus to Black Friday sales.
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