If you've always wondered how this celebration became a major national holiday, here's a brief recap of the origin of Thanksgiving-how the holiday grew from to become an annual highlight to American Novembers.
The Pilgrims are an important part of the Thanksgiving tradition. Most people would credit them with beginning of Thanksgiving; there's no direct line, however, between their end of the harvest celebration in 1621 and today's modern holiday. After their first rough winter in 1620, the Pilgrims experienced a bountiful harvest in the fall of 1621. They held a three day feast with the local natives, without whom they couldn't have survived. They ate wild game, cooked pumpkins, lobster, corn, berries, plums and other foods they gathered from the area.
The next time Thanksgiving shows up in American history isn't until June of 1676 when the colonists in Massachusetts held a Thanksgiving celebration to mark their victory over the natives. The colonies held a collective day of Thanksgiving in October of 1777. George Washington tried to establish a national day of Thanksgiving, in honor of the Pilgrims, in 1789 but it wasn't a popular idea. Washington and John Adams both gave proclamations for national days of Thanksgiving during their terms in office, but Thomas Jefferson refused when he was president. For the next century, proclamations of days of Thanksgiving were made by a few presidents, several state governors and even mayors of cities. These days were celebrated at different times throughout the year and normally commemorated the harvest or another special event.
It wasn't until 1863 that the idea of a permanent, national holiday became a reality. Abraham Lincoln issued a declaration of a day of Thanksgiving to be held on the last Thursday of November. The subsequent presidents followed his lead as they all tried to restore national unity after the Civil War. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to move the holiday up a week to give stores extra time to sell Christmas presents, in order to help get the post-Depression economy moving. However, in 1941 Congress voted to permanently make the holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It's been celebrated on that date ever since!
Thanksgiving brings us thoughts of the comforts of home, but the holiday exists today thanks to the arrival of the Pilgrims on these shores, and their trip here was a long way from comfortable.
You can create cool turkey crafts that are sure to look fine long after your turkey dinner is done. This 3-D turkey is fun and will make a beautiful centerpiece or a great wall hanging at your Thanksgiving family gathering.