Thanksgiving is one of America’s most treasured holidays and traditions. While there are some constants in the way we observe the day, it can mean different things to different people. The American Thanksgiving holiday began as a feast in the early days of the American colonies almost 400 years ago. In 1620, a boat filled with more than 100 people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from England to settle in the New World. This religious group had begun to question the beliefs of the Church of England and they wanted to separate from it.
The pilgrims settled in what is now the state of Massachusetts, and their first winter in the New World was difficult. They had arrived too late to grow any crops, and without fresh food, half the colonist died from diseases which the contracted on the voyage from England. The following spring the Iroquois Indians befriended the pilgrims and taught them how to grow corn, something the colonist never had done before. They showed them other crops to grow in the unfamiliar soil and how to hunt and fish. In the autumn of 1621, plentiful crops of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins were harvested. The colonists had much to be thankful for, so a feast was planned. They invited the local Indian chief and 90 Indians. The Indians brought deer to roast with the turkeys and other wild game offered by the colonists. The colonists had learned how to cook cranberries and different kinds of corn and squash dishes from the Indians. In following years, many of the original colonists celebrated the autumn harvest with a feast of thanks. After the United States became an independent country, Congress recommended one yearly day of thanksgiving for the whole nation to celebrate. George Washington suggested the date November 26 as Thanksgiving Day and then in 1863, at the end of the long civil war, Abraham Lincoln asked all Americans to set aside the last Thursday in November as…
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