The Puritan Thanksgiving and Other Thanksgiving Traditions



When we mention the Thanksgiving holiday we automatically think: turkey, Pilgrims, Indians, Mayflower, etc. However, many people don't know the history behind this great family tradition that is celebrated annually in America. Moreover, most people don't realize that to the Puritans, Thanksgiving was a major holiday. It was a chance for the Puritans to fast, pray, and give thanks to God. Through my research I have found the importance of Thanksgiving for a variety of people around the world.



The First Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving


To most Americans the iconic Pilgrims represent the Thanksgiving holiday. When they arrived to Plymouth on the Mayflower many of their people died because they did not know how to survive the harsh winter. The colonists befriended the Indians in order for them to learn how to hunt, gather, and fish. By the fall of 1692 the colonists had gathered enough food for everyone to partake in a 3 day feast, which was documented as the first recorded Thanksgiving. Although many of the foods they are differentiated for the foods that we traditionally eat today. Their menu mainly consisted of roast goose, corn, and lobster; foods that were in abundance in the New England area.

Many people used the idea of a Thanksgiving meal to celebrate a bountiful harvest, a victorious battle, or a drought ending rain. But to the Puritans Thanksgiving was an entirely different and more important day in their year. This day was dedicated to religious fasting, praying and giving thanks to God. Puritans did not celebrate Thanksgiving on a traditional basis; this holiday was only observed during times of crisis, or immediately after a time of misfortune. The religious ceremony was serious and had little resemblance to the modern day Thanksgiving traditions. See Thanksgiving Recipes for some foods the Puritans may have eaten after their day-long fast.

By 1777 it was declared that all 13 colonies had to celebrate to Thanksgiving holiday due to their victorious battle against the British at Saratoga. Then in the mid nineteenth century many states celebrated the holiday which could vary day by and even month. By this point the holiday was observed nationally and it was not until a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale pushed for the holiday to become official.

Sarah Josepha Hale
Sarah Josepha Hale


Hale was editor of Lady’s Magazine and produced nearly fifty pieces of work. When America was at risk of a civil war, Hale thought it a good idea to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in order to unite the nation. Hale began a one-woman campaign, advertising her ideas on the matter. Finally her dream was rewarded by 16th president Abraham Lincoln. In 1863 Lincoln announced that the last day of every November was to be celebrated as Thanksgiving Day.

From then on this day became, to most Americans, a leisurely day and a nice break from the 6 day work week. In the 1920s the NFL began, and to boost their attendance rate the Detroit Lions invented a Thanksgiving Day Game which now has become a traditional game every year. The Macy’s Day Parade began in 1924 in New York and shop owners saw this time a good opportunity to make some extra money before the Christmas season. In 1939, president Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date of the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November (in that year there were five Thursdays in November) to give retailers a longer Christmas shopping season. Over time, Americans have made their own traditions to this holiday, but one thing remains true: Thanksgiving is a time for family, and food.


Detroit Lions in 1920
Detroit Lions in 1920
Macy's Day Parade
Macy's Day Parade

Today's Thanksgiving Traditions


History of Thanksgiving Timeline



Link:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/features/thanks/thanks.html

Video:
http://www.history.com/minisites/thanksgiving/



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