Everything to know about Thanksgiving

Emmy Johnson, Writer

Thanksgiving’s origin is something most people are taught in kindergarten, but what happened after the Plymouth colonies feast and how did it become a national holiday for so many families?

Most of the stories we were told as children are true— the Mayflower settled in Massachusetts where most of the colony endured a rough winter full of disease and hunger. In the spring, a Native American of the Abenaki tribe discussed a possible peace agreement. He later returned with Squanto, an ex-Native American slave, leading to the two teaching the Plymouth colony how to hunt and farm.

“Despite this new colony being on native land, the surrounding native tribes weren’t angered and instead created a long friendship, sadly one of the few relationships between colonizers and Native Americans that were healthy,” History.com stated.

This friendship lasted until surrounding colonies fought over native land. After the first year of the peace treaty, the colonies celebrated the start of winter with dinner. A common misconception of this holiday is that the tribes and colonies were close friends and continued to interact when, in reality, the tribes and colonies had an alliance and only ever interacted during harvest or hunting season.

Thanksgiving only became a holiday after the Plymouth fasting season where a famine struck the colonies. Food was scarce so Governor William Branford called for religious fasting and promised a feast at the beginning of winter, Nov. 25. 

In several years, small feasts and festivals were common but Thanksgiving didn’t get it’s name until after the Revolutionary War when President George Washington officially named the holiday and called it a day for celebrating gratitude. Throughout history, states have adopted a specific day to celebrate the holiday— but an official date for Thanksgiving wasn’t proclaimed until the Civil War.

Thanksgiving today has less of a religious connotation and fewer references to its origins. While eating pies, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other foods of this sort is quite common, many Americans agree that the best part of Thanksgiving is the turkey.

According to the National Turkey Federation, “Over 90 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving whether it’s oven-baked, grilled or even deep fried, eating the bird is quite common.”

While food is a big part of the celebration, so are parades. Since 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a televised celebration presented by the department store Macy’s. The parade includes giant blow up balloons, extra floats and live performances from America’s best artists.

To get more information on the history of Thanksgiving, visit History.com.