Long before the early settlers came to America, there used to dwell the Native Americans or American Indians. The settlers who came to America were the Protestants of Plymouth who left the Church of England. The first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the autumn of the year 1621. The feast was organized by the English pilgrims to thank God as they were able to survive the hostile climate of America. The feast took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts, after the first successful harvest by the English pilgrims. This was later converted into a tradition and has been in continuation since then. The first harvest was also celebrated by the early settlers to show their gratitude towards the Native Americans, as they were the one who taught the pilgrims the way how to cultivate the crops.
During the first season the pilgrims were helped by the Wampanoag tribe which donated food and supplied to them for winters. Squanto was the name of the Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe. He taught the pilgrims how to cultivate corn and other vegetables, along with fishing. He also became a translator for the pilgrims as he learnt English language during the days he was enslaved in Europe, while he traveled to England. The first feast which was given by the pilgrims to the American Indians has become the basis for the ritualistic Thanksgiving Day. The first feast also signifies the peace between the pilgrims and the Native Americans, though the same lasted for only one generation. In the earlier days, this day was not celebrated as Thanksgiving Day, but as a harvest festival which was present alike in the Christian and Wampanoag culture. Later, Thanksgiving Day came to be observed on the fourth Thursday of every November every year.
It's said that the first Thanksgiving feast was organized outside the house. This was so because there were 53 pilgrims who attended the feast with the Native Americans who were around ninety in number. Lack of space to accommodate people caused a shift in the venue. The fist meal consisted of ducks, turkeys, geese, swan and venison, fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, and plums. The feast continued for three consecutive days. After the meal they sang, danced and made merry. Prayers were sung before the meal and God was thanked for the harvest. However, the traditional feast was not continued for a few years, until in the year 1623, when it was observed again due to planty of harvest. In the eighteenth century in the year 1789 the last Thursday was proclaimed as the National Thanksgiving Day by the president Lincoln. A holiday was announced on the day later. Since then, the Thanksgiving Day has become an American holiday.
The first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated as a day for thanking God, rather than feasting. To know more about this festival, read on the article.