History of Thanksgiving

Nathan Montoya, Sandscript Author

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on the 4th thursday of November, every year in the US and Brazil, but that isn’t the same date for all countries. In Canada it’s celebrated on the 2nd Monday in October, in Liberia it’s the 1st Thursday in November and on Norfolk Island, it’s the last Wednesday in November. It’s widely known and celebrated as a time for families to get together and say what they’re thankful for, but is that the real way to celebrate Thanksgiving? The way to find out is to look at the origins of the holiday. 

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England carrying 102 passengers, an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could practice their faith freely, as well as being lured by the promise of prosperity at The ‘New World’. The 66 crossing from Plymouth, England to near the tip of Cape Cod was not easy however, being treacherous and uncomfortable, but this is not where they needed to be. As they needed to cross the Massachusetts Bay. One month later, they did cross it, and began working on establishing a village at Plymouth. The first winter there was brutal, where most of the colonists remained on board the Mayflower, where they suffered exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious diseases. Half of the original passengers from the Mayflower survived to see the first spring of New England. In March, the remaining settlers went ashore, where they were incredibly surprised to be visited by a member of the Abenaki tribe, who greeted them with English. Several days later, this member returned with another Native, Squanto, who was a member of the Patuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain, sold into slavery, but escaped to London and eventually returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition.. Squanto saved the remaining pilgrims who were weakened and suffered from malnutrition and illness, by teaching them how to cultivate corn, get sap from maple trees, catching fish in rivers and avoiding poisonous plants. He also helped the Pilgrims make an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, and this alliance lasted more than 50 years, remaining one of the sole examples of harmony between the European colonists and Native Americans. In November 1621, the Pilgrims had their first successful corn harvest, and Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the colony’s Native allies, including the chief of the Wampanoag, Massasoit. Now remembered as the “First Thanksgiving” 

Nowadays Thanksgiving is considered a family event, where people gather and have a feast and talk about what they’re thankful for. What started as a way for there to be peace and share food, has now changed into a social gathering for friends and families alike to meet up, and share a dinner together with food and drinks alike.