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History of Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated all across America. Many people will eat a turkey, some ‘taters, and a slice of pie this Thursday in celebration. Few, however, take the moment to consider the history behind Thanksgiving. The Mayflower left England in 1620, carrying individuals looking to freely practice their faith and those interested in the promise of prosperity and land in America. When the settlers sailed across Massachusetts Bay, they began work on the first new village in Plymouth. After much conflict with Native Americans, settlers celebrated in a feast with the Wampanoag Indians in 1621. This is now considered to be the first Thanksgiving to ever take place.

For over a decade after the first Thanksgiving, the event was celebrated at different times in the fall by everyone, as it didn’t become an official holiday until 1863. For making Thanksgiving an official holiday, we can thank Sarah Josepha Hale. She pushed the idea for nearly 40 years before it was adopted by President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln originally scheduled it to be the last Thursday in November, but it was later changed to the week before the last by Franklin Roosevelt. “Franksgiving” was an attempt to jump retail sales during the Depression, however it was withdrawn in 1941 due to many Americans’ opposition to the change.

Settlers in the country did a lot to ensure that America would be theirs years ago. Thanksgiving is a symbol of what there is to be thankful for, whether it be family, friends, or (undoubtedly) the food. So while students will enjoy Thursday’s feast, don’t forget the many ones before it and remember what you are thankful for.

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History of Thanksgiving