The origins of Thanksgiving in the United States date back to 1620 and the pilgrims.

In those days, colonist (aka pilgrims) were leaving England on ships and coming to the “New World” in search of freedom. One of the ships that a group of 102 colonists came on was called the Mayflower. The Mayflower set sail from Plymouth England, and eventually landed in the New World near what is today known as Cape Code, Massachusetts.

The pilgrims settled in, creating a village that they called Plymouth. Winter came quickly, and the pilgrims were unprepared for the harshness that living in the New World would present. That first winter, half of the pilgrims died.

As winter began to ease into spring, a native american Indian from the Abenaki tribe came to visit them. He soon came back with another Indian named Squanto from the Pawtuxet indian tribe. Squanto took mercy on the pilgrims and tried to help them get adjusted to the new land. He taught them perhaps one of the most important things they would need to know – how to cultivate crops (corn!) and catch fish.

In 1621, the governor at the time – Governor William Bradford decided when the pilgrims had their first successful crop, to organize a feast for celebration. It is believed that the menu may have consisted of deer, fowl, corn, and other home-grown crops. The Indians were invited to the feast, and history was made…the first Thanksgiving was born!

When did Thanksgiving become an official holiday?

Thanksgiving did not become national holiday until until 1939 when it was suggested by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Congress approved it as an official National Holiday in 1941.

Prior to it becoming a national holiday, presidents would sometimes declare it a one-time holiday!

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