Thanksgiving history intrigues students


IMAGE / Alexis Roof

Thanksgiving is a holiday with an intriguing history and traditions that stand the test of time.

When you celebrate Thanksgiving you may not always think about how this holiday came about.

Senior Ashley Harroun believes that knowing the history of any holiday is important.

“Understanding the background of how a holiday came about gives you a new appreciation for a holiday,” Harroun said.

The first Thanksgiving was held in November 1621, when the Pilgrims’ first harvest of corn was successful.

The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving as a community, not just with their individual families.

All of the families in the community gathered and they invited many of their Native American allies.

This gathering lasted for three days.

The Pilgrims didn’t celebrate the harvest every year. In fact, their second Thanksgiving wasn’t held until 1623.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday when President George Washington declared a proclamation in 1789.

The first Thanksgiving of the United States celebrated the new independence won in the American Revolutionary War and the ratification of the Constitution.

In this period of time Thanksgiving didn’t have a specific day that it was held; instead, whoever was president at the time would create designated days of thanks.

Many years went by until Thanksgiving was made into a holiday.

In 1817, the first state to adopt Thanksgiving as an annual holiday was New York.

Many other states also adopted the holiday at this time. Each state that adopted the holiday celebrated it on a different day than the others.

However, due to lack of communication with the South, southern states didn’t begin celebrating Thanksgiving until 1863.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln finally declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday of November.

One of the biggest advocates to make Thanksgiving a national holiday was Sarah Josepha Hale.

For 36 years, Hale campaigned for the government to create Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Hale had sent letters and editorials to everyone in government to persuade those who were against making Thanksgiving a holiday.

However, this changed when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the day of Thanksgiving to the week before in 1939.

He did to increase sales because the country was experiencing the Great Depression.

Roosevelt’s plan didn’t increase sales as much as he hoped.

This caused him to sign a bill in 1941, which made Thanksgiving officially the fourth Thursday of November.