Most people don’t know this, but Thanksgiving wasn’t actually a “real” holiday until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed “Thanksgiving Day”. People believe that in 1621 when the pilgrims came over that they celebrated the first Thanksgiving, which is not true. Yes, the pilgrims had a gathering and gave thanks for their three-day feast, but it wasn’t called Thanksgiving yet.
The pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and settled on Plymouth Rock December 11, 1620. Their first winter was a harsh one. There were 102 who sailed over on the Mayflower, but the following fall there were only 46 left. In 1621 the remaining colonists celebrated their new beginning in America, with a feast, along with the 91 natives that helped the Pilgrims through their first year. After that the “Thanksgiving” feast was not celebrated again until many years later.
Edward Rawson a clerk, proclaimed June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. In 1789, when George Washington proclaimed “National Day of Thanksgiving”, people were opposed to it. Later President Thomas Jefferson opposed the idea of having a day of thanksgiving, because he felt like there was a discord among colonies. President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. Every president after Lincoln proclaimed the holiday.
No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, it means something different to everyone. The term “turkey” was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl. Pumpkin pie is something that is a tradition we have now days, but something they had back then. There was no flour, so there was no bread or pastries. The Pilgrims did boil pumpkin and they produced a type of bread from their corn crops. Another example is the cornucopia. The cornucopia is a basket that food is held in as a decoration or where food is placed. The one major constant is the feast that goes back many years ago to the Pilgrims’ first year in America.