The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. There were 102 people who was on the Mayflower. Their first winter was hard and 46 people died. In the year 1621, they had lots of food grow that year and the colonists (pilgrims) decided to celebrate with the first Thanksgiving feast.They invited 91 Indians who had helped them survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives (Indians). The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.
Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" (hunting) after wild ducks and geese. We're not sure if wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.
They probably didn't have pumpkin pie that year. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pies of any kind. They did eat boiled pumpkin, and they made a type of fried bread from corn. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. Because all the cows were wild, there was no milk, cheese, or dairy products. The newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous, so they probably did not eat potatoes. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.
On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good crops they had received. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. President Thomas Jefferson didn't like the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.
It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, worked hard to get Thanksgiving made a national holiday. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who set it up one week earlier in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. The people got upset and so the president moved Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
On January 31, 1957, Canada's
the second Monday in October of
year to be "A Day of General Thanksgiving to God for the bountiful
with which Canada has been blessed".