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History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a tradition that has been around for a couple of hundred years now but it seems as though there is not a complete understanding as to how it truly went down. Most people just see it as a holiday to give thanks to the people around you and for the things you have in your life. But where did Thanksgiving actually come from? Although Thanksgiving is seen as an American holiday by the Native Americans and the pilgrims, there are actually about 17 other countries that celebrate their own version of Thanksgiving. Despite the fact that there are 17 other countries that celebrate their form of the holiday, let's see where the American Thanksgiving came from.

In September of 1620, a ship named the Mayflower carried a bunch of pilgrims from England to America, in search of freedom to practice their religions and freedom to do as they pleased in many other aspects of their lives. When they eventually reached the US, they landed at the edge of Cape Cod but they were supposed to be at the Hudson River. Soon after originally arriving, they crossed Massachusetts Bay and began establishing their lives in Plymouth. During the first Winter, most of the pilgrims had to stay on the ship where they began to get very ill. They suffered from scurvy, many contagious diseases, and exposure to the elements. About half of the original members of the Mayflower passed away during that first harsh winter. When the remaining members moved to shore, they were greeted by a member of the Abenaki tribe who was speaking English. Soon after, they were greeted by Squanto, another Native American from the Pawtuxet tribe. Squanto is the one who ended up teaching the pilgrims how to grow many crops like corn and he taught them how to fish as well. He was also the man who helped the pilgrims form a treaty with the Wampanoag tribe. In November of 1621, the pilgrim’s corn harvest turned out and Governor William Bradford arranged a feast with the colonists and the Native American allies that helped them get to where they were. This celebration lasted for three days and some of the food they had consisted of different birds, deer, and fruit.

The second Thanksgiving celebration was in 1623 and it was celebrated because the long drought that they had experienced had come to an end. Eventually, it was declared a national holiday in 1789 by George Washington when he gave a proclamation to pray and give thanks, especially for the ratification of the US Constitution. New York was the first state to take on Thanksgiving as an annual holiday in 1817.

Although Thanksgiving has taken on a bit of a different meaning nowadays, it is still a tradition and holiday that is celebrated by millions of people all over the country. It has become a day to come together with friends and family and rejoice in everything that you are thankful for. Thanksgiving is a day to eat lots of good food and be grateful for all things in life.


Mo McClure is a senior at Poudre High School and she runs the Watashiato Press where she shows people's life experiences and social issues. Click here to check it out!


“Thanksgiving Day.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Editors. “Thanksgiving 2022.”, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009,

“The Thanksgiving Holiday.” US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives,

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