- Pilgrims (initially known as Puritans) left
England...originally to New Holland, not to America...in order to flee
- Pilgrims did not like their life in New Holland,
so they decided to come to America.
- After boarding the Mayflower, the Pilgrims landed
at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620.
- Incidentally, the Pilgrims brought beer with them
in the Mayflower. Yeah!! Get 'er done!
- Their first Winter was terrible and they lost
many of their group.
- In 1621, their first harvest was bountiful.
Sadly, only half of the @100 original group of Pilgrims was still
alive. 52 colonists to be exact. Of these, only four were
adult women and about 40% of the surviving Pilgrims were children.
- Thankful to still be alive, a three-day feast
with the Indians who helped them survive was held. This is what
is considered to be the first Thanksgiving. It started on
December 13, 1621.
- The Wampanoag chief that was invited to the feast
was named Massasoit. About 90 Wampanoag tribesmen came to the
- The leader of the Pilgrims, Governor William
Bradford, invited the Wampanoag for the reason that they taught them
how to cultivate the land.
- There were games as well as food at the first
- What food was served at the first Thanksgiving
This is a tough thing for historians to determine. We
do know for sure, according to primary sources, that venison (deer
meat) and wild fowl were served. There are other foods we are
fairly certain were served and many more foods that we know were NOT
served. Here is a list of food that we believe was had at the
first Thanksgiving feast:
- Wild fowl- They could have had wild turkey,
but it was most likely that they had seasonal waterfowl like ducks
- Cranberries, but NO cranberry sauce- If
they did have cranberries, they were served for tartness or
color. It wasn't until half a century later that cranberries were
sweetened and made into sauces to accompany meat.
- Squash or pumpkins, but NO pumpkin pie-
They might have had pumpkins or some kind of squash, but they certainly
didn't have butter or wheat flour for making crust. And even if
they did have pie-fixings, they hadn't even built a baking oven, yet.
- What foods did they NOT have at the first
- NO pumpkin pie
- NO cranberry sauce
- NO potatoes of any kind
- How was the table set and how did the Pilgrims
eat their food?:
Pilgrims didn't have forks. They ate their food with
spoons, knives, and their fingers. Salt was on the table and they
sprinkled it on their food. Pepper was used in cooking, but not
available on the table. They wiped their hands on big cloth
napkins, which they also used to handle hot pieces of food.
- The first Thanksgiving Proclamation ever issued
was in 1676 in a town called Charlestown, Massachusetts. By
unanimous vote the governing council had clerk, Edward Rawson, make
June 29th the day of Thanksgiving.
- The Continental Congress in 1777 first officially
proclaimed Thanksgiving as a holiday. Keep in mind they didn't
set an annual date for Thanksgiving or even thought that it was going
to be held more than once. This was also before the time of U.S.
- Several people wanted to have an official day of
Thanksgiving, including George Washington, who proclaimed a national
day of Thanksgiving in 1789. He did it again in 1795.
Several people did not want an official day of Thanksgiving, including
President Thomas Jefferson.
- Different Presidents and governors would hold
Thanksgiving at various times, and it was far from being an organized
- Annually, every President after Washington, and
before Lincoln, had to proclaim which day in November Thanksgiving was
going to be held. It was not always the last Thursday in
November. That came with Lincoln.
- Most people, for most years since Washington's
time, celebrated Thanksgiving.
- Sarah J. Hale, a magazine editor, began her
campaign to make Thanksgiving an official holiday in 1827. It
wasn't until 1863 that her urging to reinstate Thanksgiving and make it
official got the approval of President Abraham Lincoln.
- In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last
Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
- Every President since Lincoln proclaimed the last
Thursday in November as Thanksgiving except for President Franklin D.
Roosevelt. In 1939, 1940, and 1941 he proclaimed the THIRD
Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving. Why? To lengthen
the Christmas shopping season and stimulate the economy. This
- It was not until 1941 that Congress declared
Thanksgiving a national holiday. They passed an official
proclamation making it legal. It was established to be the fourth
Thursday of November.