Why Do We Celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday?

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Every fourth Thursday in November, people celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. For those wondering why do we celebrate Thanksgiving every year, there are several reasons behind the holiday.

History Behind the Thanksgiving Day Celebration
The first Thanksgiving happened on September 1620 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, among the Wampanoag Native Americans and the settlers of Plymouth. In the states and the colonies, Thanksgiving Day continued to be celebrated for more than two centuries. It officially became a November holiday when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as such during the Civil War in 1863.

Thanksgiving Day Marks the First Pilgrim Harvest
The colonists came from Plymouth, England, on the ship known as the Mayflower. This ship carried 102 passengers. Most of them were looking for a new land where they could practice their religion freely. The trip took 66 days after which they landed on Cape Cod. After a month, the Pilgrims created the village of Plymouth where they celebrated the first Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the Pilgrims’ corn harvest and lasted three days.

Thanksgiving is a Day with Family and a Feast
Today, Thanksgiving is a holiday that everyone celebrates throughout the 50 states. Most businesses close so that people have a chance to celebrate with their families. On this day, families sit down to a large meal, which usually consists of a large turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables and pumpkin pie or apple pie. This gathering around the table hearkens back to the first Thanksgiving when the Pilgrims gathered with Native Americans to celebrate the harvest.

Thanksgiving is an Opportunity to Give Thanks
When families gather around the Thanksgiving Day table, they gave thanks. This day is a time to stop, remove oneself from the daily hustle and bustle and show gratitude. Many families have a tradition where each person states what they are thankful for in the past year around the holiday table. Whether this occurs before or after the meal, it is similar to what the Pilgrims did during the first Thanksgiving. They gave thanks for their harvest. After arriving to a new land through a treacherous journey, they learned how to plant crops with help from the Native Americans. When their crops yielded a harvest, they were very thankful. This harvest meant that they could feed their families and in essence support them in this new land.

Thanksgiving Day is an Opportunity to Feed the Hungry
On Thanksgiving Day, the hungry are not just fed at the family table. They also fed at soup kitchens and local shelters. Thanksgiving is a traditional day where people in need go to a shelter to get an elaborate Thanksgiving meal. Many people, who volunteer at these shelters, do so as a way to give thanks and show gratitude for what they have. It is their way of paying it forward.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday where people gather with their families to show gratitude. Even if today’s Thanksgiving is not exactly similar to the first one in 1620, many of its tenets remain the same. Giving thanks and celebrating are things that we still do today. Feeding the hungry remains a wonderful Thanksgiving Day tradition that sprung out from this spirit of gratitude.