How Thanksgiving was Started?

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On every fourth thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving to give thanks. Have you wondered why we celebrate this holiday and how it started ? Thanksgiving began by the Pilgrims and Indians to give thanks God for the wonderful harvest. It’s was a special day then and is still a special day today to thank God for what we have.

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On September 6, 1620, 102 men, women, and children boarded a ship called the Mayflower to set sail to North America, which they called the New World. Today we call them Pilgrims. They left England in search of religious freedom from King James I, who passed a law that stated no one can practice the religion they wanted. At first the Pilgrims first moved to Holland to practice their religion but after 12 years of financial problems, they received funding from English merchants to sail across to the New World. They sailed on the Mayflower for a little over two months across the stormy Atlantic Ocean, hoping to settle the land where New York City is now located but due to the strong windy condition they had to cut their trip short. They landed on what is now called Cape Cod but one month later they crossed Massachusetts Bay and landed in what we call Plymouth, Massachusetts. They built a settlement at an abandon Pawtuxet Indian village.

The Pilgrims found themselves in a very harsh environment. The colonists needed to figure something out since they signed a contract with the Virginia Company to settle in Virginia but they landed in Massachusetts instead. The colonists decided that they wanted to make the colony successful and set out to create a short document, the Mayflower Compact, that had a set of temporary laws to rule themselves and form a good colony. On November 11, 1620, male adults signed the Mayflower Compact. When the cold, Decembers came the Pilgrims weren’t used to hunting or fishing and many suffered from hunger. Most of them remained on board the ship where they suffered exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious diseases. Many of the Pilgrims didn’t survive the winter and only half of the passengers survived to see the New Englands first Spring. The Mayflower Compact perished after the winter and William Bradford was elected as governor for thirty years and under his guidance the colonists suffered less hardship than before.

In March, Samoset, an Abenaki leader, and Squanto visited the settlers. Squanto was a Wampanoag who had experience with other settlers knew English very well because he was kidnapped by traders wh and sold into slavery before escaping back to his homeland. Samoset also introduced the Pilgrims to Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe. Squanto helped the Pilgrims to survive the New World. He helped the Pilgrims to plant crops and he taught them how to use fish to fertilize their fields. He taught them how to hunt, fish, how to avoid poisonous plants, and how to Massasoit signed a treaty of alliance with the Pilgrims in 1621, that made a promise to not hurt or fight and to protect one another, that lasted 50 years. If a Wampanoag broke the peace, he will be sent to Plymouth for punishment and if a colonists broke peace then he will be sent to the Wampanoags.

In fall the Pilgrims with the help of the Indians had a huge harvest. The Pilgrims and Governor wanted to make a celebration to thank God for the wonderful harvest. The few of the settlers went out to hunt for some food for the celebration. The Wampanoag heard the gunshots and alerted their leader Massasoit, who thought the colonists were preparing for war. Massasoit visited the colonists settlement with 90 men of his to see if they were really preparing for war and they realized they were hunting for the harvest celebration. William Bradford organized the celebration feast and invited the Native Americans allies, including the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit. The Native Americans helped the pilgrims hunt and gather food for the harvest and Massasoit sent his men to go hunt for deer and they brought 5 deer as a gift to the colonists. The harvest was somewhere near the fall season in 1621. The celebration lasted for three days of men, women, and children eating, hunting, praying, and other entertainments.

The celebration had many different food, games, singing, and traditions. The celebration had similar and different foods we have today for Thanksgiving. Their were most likely foods like deer, lobster, corn, beans, cranberries, and many more. Their were games and dancing at the celebration like tug-o-war, blind man’s bluff, pin game, which were most of Native American games the Indian children played and their was dancing the women did called the jig and they also sang hymns. The adult men made competition like target shoot to see you has the best skills. Thanksgiving started to become a holiday 200 years later.

This is how Thanksgiving started by the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Thanksgiving is a very special holiday for us to give thanks to the Lord and it began with them.

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How Thanksgiving Was Started?. (2019, Mar 29). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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