In the year 1621, in the Plymouth Colony in America, the first Thanksgiving harvest feast was celebrated with 53 colonists and 90 Wampanoags. Governor Bradford sent four men to hunt birds and the Wampanoag hunted five deer to create the harvest feast. The colonists served swan, goose, duck, venison, shellfish, lobster and pumpkin. These festivities provided the foundation for our nation's Thanksgiving gatherings that take place to this day.
On April 1, 1864 a Proclamation of Thanksgiving was ordered by President Lincoln giving us this national holiday. As far back as 1861 government departments were ordered to close for a local day of thanksgiving, and in New England and other states, a Thanksgiving holiday was scheduled at different times. The proclamation was born out of a document penned by Secretary of State William Seward, making the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise. The proclamation took place in Spring of 1864 while the Civil War came to a close in Spring of 1865. Is it any wonder that our national statesmen felt the need to declare a national day of Thanksgiving and praise in such tumultuous times.
The Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty,
in the Harvest Home tradition with feasting and sport (recreation).
To these people of strong Christian faith,
this was not merely a revel; it was also a joyous outpouring of gratitude.
Our holiday today was born out of two national traditions. The first being the New England custom of rejoicing after a successful harvest, based on ancient English harvest festivals. The second being the Puritan Thanksgiving, a solemn religious observance combining prayer and feasting. I am thankful for the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony who brought us the first feast. And thankful for the New England people, and the Puritans, whose customs brought about this modern Thanksgiving Day. No matter who you break bread with on this Thanksgiving Day, I hope you can spend some time reflecting on what the holiday means to you. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. ENJOY!