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What is the origin of Thanksgiving Day?

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Quick Answer

Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 after their first harvest following their arrival to the New World. The Pilgrims suffered a severe drought after reaching Plymouth Rock in 1620, but after much fasting and prayer, they were blessed with a bountiful harvest, resulting in a celebration.

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What is the origin of Thanksgiving Day?
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Full Answer

The celebration continued for three days but was not repeated until 1623 when the Pilgrims suffered another drought. The Pilgrims learnt to grow numerous crops such as corn, beans and pumpkins, many of which are still served at Thanksgiving feasts.

While Thanksgiving was proclaimed a day of thanks in 1676, it was not until October 1777 that all 13 colonies joined together in a celebration of thanks for their victory and freedom from Great Britain. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. The proclamation was a result of the efforts of magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote numerous articles expressing the need for a federal holiday centered around giving thanks. As of 2015, Thanksgiving is a day celebrated by both religious and non-religious households as a time to account for the many blessings received throughout the year and as a time for families to come together to share love and gratitude.

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