thanksgiving food

Thanksgiving is one of America's most cherished holidays. It has a long and interesting history, dating back to the days of the Pilgrims. But what does the holiday actually commemorate? How has it changed over the years? And what are some of the most popular Thanksgiving traditions? In this article, we will explore the history of Thanksgiving from its origins to the present day.

Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition in the United States, celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday of November. But few people know the history of this holiday.

The Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving

depiction of the first Thanksgiving dinner

The Pilgrims were a group of English Protestants who fled England in 1620 and sailed to the New World on the Mayflower. They were seeking religious freedom and had hoped to establish a colony in the Virginia territory. When they arrived in the New World, they found that the area was already inhabited by Native Americans. The two groups soon began to trade with each other, and the Pilgrims were introduced to the custom of celebrating a feast to give thanks for the harvest.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims and Native Americans in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was an autumn harvest festival that lasted for three days. The Pilgrims had arrived in America one year earlier, after fleeing religious persecution in England. They were helped by the Native Americans. The feast was attended by about 90 Native Americans and 50 Pilgrims.

The history of Thanksgiving from the 1700s to the present

Thanksgiving has been celebrated in America for hundreds of years. Each year, the holiday seems to take on a new meaning. The history of Thanksgiving is a reflection of the changing values and beliefs of Americans.

The first official Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789.

In the 1800s, Thanksgiving was celebrated as a religious holiday. Families would gather together to give thanks for the blessings they had received. The meal typically consisted of traditional foods like turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

In the early 1900s, Thanksgiving began to be celebrated as a national holiday. The focus shifted from giving thanks to God to being thankful for the country and our freedoms.  The tradition of pardoning a turkey began in 1947, when President Harry Truman did so.

The meaning of Thanksgiving today

Is today much different than in the past? It is no longer considered a religious holiday, but it remains a day to give thanks. Most of us think of the same things from the first Thanksgiving celebration, family and food. Thanksgiving dinner is probably the most treasured meal of the year for many people.

roasted turkey for thanksgiving dinner

The most popular dishes are turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and of course, pumpkin pie for dessert. My sister-in-law cooked a turducken one Thanksgiving.  That was a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. It was delicious but more than most home cooks would take on.

How to celebrate Thanksgiving

family celebrating thanksgiving in their scottsdale home

Thanksgiving is one of those celebrations where the meal is cooked in the kitchen but eaten in the dining room. I use my Grandmother's china for Thanksgiving dinner (and Christmas).

In our family, we usually go to one of my husband's sisters, since they're all pretty much gourmet cooks. I've also celebrated with my family in California. Many years ago I celebrated at my friend's sister's house.

This is a popular day for soup kitchens and some restaurants will offer to offer turkey dinners to the poor. That is truly sharing and giving thanks to commemorating this cherished holiday of our beginnings as a country with freedoms not all places have.

Football games are often watched and Thanksgiving parades are a popular tradition in many cities. 

Thanksgiving traditions around the world

Some countries like the sound of our Thanksgiving celebration and the food we cook. You might read different things, but Australia doesn't actually celebrate Thanksgiving for the same reasons we do, but they like the food we prepare for this celebration and serve similar dishes. They celebrate on the last Wednesday of November. 

Canada celebrates their Canadian Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. The celebrations still embrace family and food, but it's not as big of a holiday as it is in the United States. The Canadian Thanksgiving supposedly started before ours did, possibly as far back as 1578, when English explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew hosted a special meal to thank God for providing them safe passage over North America, into what is now the Canadian Territory of Nunavut. 

Granada observes Thanksgiving o October 25th with events and church services. The majority of folks spend the day with their loved ones. The festival commemorates the military intervention by the United States and the Caribbean in 1983. Following the death of Grenada's prime minister, the United States dispatched troops to restore order.

Thanksgiving is observed in Liberia on the first Thursday of November. The majority of people go to their places of worship to praise and thank the Almighty God. They also attend concerts and dances, as well as get together for special Thanksgiving meals.

Saint Lucia celebrates every year on the first Monday in October. But they are a lot more laid back in their celebrations. Despite the fact that it is a public holiday, businesses are open and most people spend time with their families or go swimming and sunbathing at the beach.

There are other countries that supposedly celebrate their own Thanksgiving, but you'll get different stories if you do a search.

The United Kingdom doesn't have the same reason the United States does to celebrate our form of Thanksgiving. However, they do celebrate something like it called The Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving or Harvest Thanksgiving, but there isn't a specific date set.

Rwanda celebrates a similar harvest day, called Umuganura Day. It is a Thanksgiving festival celebrated on the first Friday of August.

Other countries with a lot of immigrants from the U.S. have pockets of areas where Thanksgiving became popular so is celebrated by many others in those countries.

To wrap things up

Christmas is a holiday that seems to be more about decor, Santa Claus, and gifts with a food celebration. Some don't celebrate the real reason for Christmas.

Thanksgiving is like that for many people. We all know about the history of the pilgrims and they're Thanksgiving dinner with the Native Americans. But do we really think much about it as we're eating dinner?

And the Native Americans sure aren't celebrating the arrival of the Pilgrims and what was done to the original residents of the United States. I bet most people don't even consider that truth.

there is always something to be thankful for, like our beautiful scottsdale home

On a lighter note, our family wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving. We're thankful to be able to live in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a dream we had for years until we were finally able to fulfill it. I don't think we'll ever take it for granted. 

Posted by Judy Orr on
Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.