Thanksgiving is a national holiday that is celebrated every year. There are several countries that celebrate this particular event but the most common and well known is America. Here are some fascinating facts about the origins of this holiday celebration which is an occasion that brings the whole family together.
Thanksgiving Is One of “The Big Seven” Holidays
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This is one of the big seven national holidays celebrated in America. The others are New Years Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Christmas.
The First Thanksgiving Feast
The tradition of Thanksgiving was introduced by the Pilgrims who arrived in America from England in the 17th century. This was an event that they wanted to share with the Wampanoag Indians to show their thanks and appreciation for all their help in assisting with their settlement in the New World. This was their way of celebrating the triumphant toiling of the land during that first hard winter, which resulted in the successful growth of their crops and a wonderful harvest of food. The first Thanksgiving celebration occurred in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts and was held over a period of 3 days.
A Date for Thanksgiving is Official Set
After the first celebration was held in 1621, Thanksgiving did not have a specific date. Different American states would decide when they would partake in this event as it suited them. It was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln decreed that the national day of Thanksgiving would be held on the fourth Thursday in November for all states.
An Advocate for a Unified Holiday
Sarah Hale was a writer and editor of a woman’s magazine. She is credited as one of the reasons why Thanksgiving became a nationally recognised holiday for the States. She initiated a writing campaign where she contacted the US Congress over a period of 17 years until her success. She is also known for writing the famous children’s poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.
Thanksgiving Becomes a National Holiday
Although the national day of Thanksgiving was set by President Lincoln, it was not a national holiday. It was not until 1941 that the US Congress officially declared that this was indeed a national holiday for all.
The Pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey
There have been several different versions as to the origin of this particular tradition. Some argue that it was initiated by President Truman while others will argue that it was started by President Kennedy.
What can be agreed on is the fact that since 1947 the National Turkey Federation has presented the President with a live turkey and two dressed turkeys and that it was President George H.W. Bush who in 1989 officially made it a tradition to pardon the live turkey which gets to live out its natural life without fear of ending up on a Thanksgiving table.