Q:

How did Thanksgiving start?

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Quick Answer

The American tradition of Thanksgiving began with a three-day feast that took place in 1621 to celebrate a bountiful harvest. It became cemented as an annual celebration in 1863, when President Lincoln declared a "day of Thanksgiving" in the midst of the Civil War.

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How did Thanksgiving start?
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Full Answer

The Pilgrims started the Thanksgiving tradition because they were so happy to have survived their first brutal winter and to have made a successful harvest with the help of the Native Americans in the area. After the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, they celebrated with other feasts from time to time but not on an annual basis. Throughout colonial times, the holiday continued to be celebrated sporadically, without any coordination between the different colonies. During the Revolutionary period, the governing bodies of the new United States began to call for days of giving thanks, and in 1789 President George Washington proclaimed the first national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." The holiday did not become an annual tradition at that point, but different states and individuals continued to celebrate it. Finally, with Lincoln's proclamation, the holiday became an annual tradition at the national level. The holiday has undergone only one major change since then: in 1939. President Franklin Roosevelt changed its date from the final Thursday in November to the next-to-last Thursday in November. He made this change in hopes that a longer Christmas shopping season would boost retailers' profits.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How long did the first Thanksgiving last?

    A:

    The first Thanksgiving, a feast held in November 1621 to celebrate the Pilgrims' first corn harvest, lasted for three days. The amount of time the celebration took to prepare is not known, but before the feast Governor William Bradford sent four settlers to hunt fowl, and Massasoit, a leader of the Native Americans who were invited to the feast, sent some of his men to hunt deer.

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  • Q:

    What are some inspirational quotes about Thanksgiving?

    A:

    Some inspirational quotes about Thanksgiving include "The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest" by William Blake and "Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow," by Edward Sanford Martin.

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  • Q:

    What are some ideas for Thanksgiving decorations?

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    Thanksgiving decorations often focus on a festive celebration of the fall season, from the scents and colors of autumn harvest to the appearance of seasonal plants. Fall leaves, cinnamon scent and crabapple branches are all examples of decorative elements that can be used to celebrate Thanksgiving.

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  • Q:

    What are some ideas for edible Thanksgiving favors?

    A:

    Candies and cookies with a harvest or fall theme make festive favors to send home with guests at the end of a Thanksgiving celebration. Use single-serving treats to decorate the Thanksgiving table by creating an edible centerpiece, or combine them with name cards to personalize each place setting.

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