Every year on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, one of the six national holidays of the nation. Historically, this occasion started as the celebration of the harvest of the year, as a method of expressing gratitude to God for his blessings and good produce. With time, the traditions have evolved and undergone tremendous changes, though the primary motive of honoring the harvest remains intact. Lavish delicacies, extensive decorations, vibrant parades, football games, get-togethers, and holiday retreats mark the major customs of the modern Thanksgiving. However, the first Thanksgiving Day was entirely different from how it is commemorated today. For some interesting and thrilling facts about the first Thanksgiving Day, glance through the following lines.
Long before the English colonists set their feet on the coast of the United States, this area was inhabited by Native American tribes. The place where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated was initially home to the Wampanoag people for more than 12,000 years, but had been visited by many European settlers on several occasions, before Mayflower arrived here. Today, the area is known as southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. The pilgrims who arrived at the coast of the United States comprised of a group of English Protestants who opted to break away from the Church of England. Initially, moving to Holland, they sailed across the Atlantic to settle in a 'New World', due to financial problems there.
With the arrival of winter, the pilgrims gathered all provisions, they could find, including Wampanoag supplies. Sighting them picking up anything and everything they could find, the Wampanoag assumed them to be a disrespectful bunch. However, Samoset, a leader from the Abenaki people, brought Squanto with him, who was a Wampanoag, and hence, all misassumptions were cleared. Squanto helped the pilgrims to cultivate corn and used fish for fertilizing the fields. After many efforts, a mutual agreement was made between the English and the native people. In the autumn of 1621, the pilgrims celebrated their harvest, as per the English tradition. These 1621 celebrations are remembered as the First Thanksgiving in Plymouth. But, the harvest festival was not regarded as Thanksgiving, though they did express their thanks to God.
The day of Thanksgiving was more of prayers and religious beliefs, rather than feasting. The English and native men, women, and children ate the feast together, which comprised of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, very different from today's traditional Thanksgiving feast. Post meals, everyone present indulged in games, singing, and dancing. The 1621 harvest gathering mainly composed of prayers and thanks, but the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth took place two years later in 1623. This way was basically observed for expressing thanks to God for showering their land with rain after a two-month drought. For over two centuries, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in several colonies and states. It was only in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln announced a national Thanksgiving Day, to be held in every November. Even though traditions and customs have changed today, yet, the 1621 feast has become a landmark that we think of for our own Thanksgiving celebrations.