Annie's "Thanksgiving History & Symbols" Page

Make Faith Your Focus This Thanksgiving!

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will
of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
~I Thessalonians 5:18~

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What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving Day is a day set aside each year for giving thanks to God for blessings received during the year. On this day, people give thanks with feasting and prayer. The holiday is celebrated in the United States and Canada.

What is the History of Thanksgiving?
The first Thanksgiving Days in New England were harvest festivals, or days for thanking God for plentiful crops. For this reason, the holiday still takes place late in the fall, after the crops have been gathered. For thousands of years, people in many parts of the world have held harvest festivals. The American Thanksgiving Day probably grew out of the harvest-home celebrations of England.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is usually a family day, celebrated with big dinners and joyous reunions. The very mention of Thanksgiving often calls up memories of kitchens and pantries crowded with good things to eat. Thanksgiving is also a time for serious religious thinking, church services, and prayer.

The first Thanksgiving observance in America was entirely religious and did not involve feasting. On Dec. 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Plantation, on the James River near what is now Charles City, Va. The group's charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a day of thanksgiving to God.

The first Thanksgiving in New England was celebrated in Plymouth less than a year after the Plymouth colonists had settled in America. The first dreadful winter in Massachusetts had killed about half the members of the colony. But new hope arose in the summer of 1621. The settlers expected a good corn harvest, despite poor crops of peas, wheat, and barley. Thus, in early autumn, governor William Bradford arranged a harvest festival to give thanks to God for the progress the colony had made.

The festival lasted three days. The men of Plymouth had shot ducks, geese, and turkeys. The menu also included clams, eel and other fish, wild plums and leeks, corn bread, and watercress. The women of the settlement supervised cooking over outdoor fires. About 90 Indians also attended the festival. They brought five deer to add to the feast. Everyone ate outdoors at large tables and enjoyed games and a military review. Similar harvest Thanksgivings were held in Plymouth during the next several years, but no traditional date was set.

Later Thanksgiving Days in the United States. The custom of Thanksgiving Day spread from Plymouth to other New England colonies. During the Revolutionary War, eight special days of thanks were observed for victories and for being saved from dangers. In 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation naming November 26 a day of national thanksgiving. In the same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church announced that the first Thursday in November would be a regular yearly day for giving thanks.

For many years, the country had no regular national Thanksgiving Day. But some states had a yearly Thanksgiving holiday. By 1830, New York had an official state Thanksgiving Day, and other Northern states soon followed its example. In 1855, Virginia became the nation's first Southern state to adopt the custom.

Who is responsible for the Thanksgiving Holiday?
Sarah Josepha Hale, pronounced joh SEE fuh (1788-1879), became one of the most famous magazine editors in the United States during the 1800's. As editor of the Ladies' Magazine and, later, of Godey's Lady's Book, she helped shape the taste and thought of thousands of women.
She worked many years to promote the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day. She received credit for persuading President Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Then President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November 1863, as "a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father." Each year afterward, for 75 years, the President formally proclaimed that Thanksgiving Day should be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. But in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set it one week earlier. He wanted to help business by lengthening the shopping period before Christmas. Congress ruled that after 1941 the fourth Thursday of November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and would be a legal federal holiday.
Of her many writings, her major surviving work is the children's poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Sarah Hale was born in Newport, New Hampshire.

How did we get the Thanksgiving Holiday?
Hale, Sarah Josepha, pronounced joh SEE fuh (1788-1879), became one of the most famous magazine editors in the United States during the 1800's. As editor of the Ladies' Magazine and, later, of Godey's Lady's Book, she helped shape the taste and thought of thousands of women. She received credit for persuading President Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Of her many writings, her major surviving work is the children's poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Sarah Hale was born in Newport, New Hampshire.

When is Thanksgiving celebrated?
American Thanksgiving is Celebrated Thursday November 25th, 2010
Canadian Thanksgiving Day is Monday
October 11th, 2010

Congress ruled that after 1941 the fourth Thursday of November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day
and would be a legal federal holiday.

What is the Plymouth Rock?
Plymouth Rock, pronounced PLIHM uhth, a granite boulder with the date 1620 carved on it, lies near the sea at Plymouth, Mass. According to a popular story, a party of Pilgrim explorers from the Mayflower stepped ashore on this rock when they landed at Plymouth on Dec. 21, 1620. Many historians, however, doubt that the Pilgrims actually stepped on the rock. It is more likely that the rock was near the spot where the Pilgrims landed. The rock was moved several times between 1774 and 1921. Today, it stands under a granite canopy near the water's edge, where it serves as a memorial to the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620.

What is a Cornucopia?
Cornucopia, pronounced kawr nuh KOH pee uh, is a horn of plenty, a symbol of nature's productivity. According to Greek mythology, it was one of the horns of Amalthaea, the goat who nursed the god Zeus when he was a baby. The horn produced ambrosia and nectar, the food and drink of the gods. In Roman mythology, the cornucopia was the horn of the river god Achelous. The hero Hercules broke off the horn in combat with Achelous, who was fighting in the form of a bull. Water nymphs filled the horn with flowers and fruit and offered it to Copia, the goddess of plenty.

What is a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner?
Is it similar to a Traditional Christmas Dinner Menu?

A traditional Christmas dinner includes corn bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and a variety of other dishes. Some families have roast goose instead of turkey. Favorite desserts include pumpkin pie. I love the French green beans with Durkee Onion Rings on top. Fluffly Bisquits and home made Gravy too.
The Perfect Thanksgiving from

Let me tell you about Cranberry Sauce!
Cranberry Sauce
: Cranberry is a red, tart, round or oval fruit that grows on an evergreen vine. In the United States, cranberry sauce is a traditional Thanksgiving food. Some North American Indians have traditionally used the berries as a medicine and as a dye. Cranberry vines are native to North America. Cranberries are harvested in September and October.

Here are some Cranberry Sauce Recipes: Cranberry-Orange Sauce & Grandma's Fresh & Cranberry Relish & Southwestern Cranberry Sauce. I haven't used any of them but thought they looked good!

Turkeys are the favorite Entree.
Turkey is a large North American bird related to chickens, peafowl, and pheasants. American Indians raised turkeys for food as early as A.D. 1000. Today, turkeys are a part of traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in many homes throughout the United States and Canada. The U.S. turkey industry produces a gross income of about $1 billion a year. On the average, people in the United States consume 18 pounds (8 kilograms) of turkey per person annually.

Here is a link to "Editors Tips". They talk about all the safety tips and hints you will need to help you have a perfect Turkey to serve this year.

Who is TOM Turkey and how did he get his name?

It is really not a special turkey with a name. Male turkeys are called toms, and female turkeys are called hens. Baby turkeys are called poults. Toms reach market weight--about 24 pounds (11 kilograms)--approximately 19 to 20 weeks after they hatch.

What are the Activities people do on Thanksgiving?

Many families enjoy watching the Macey's Thanksgiving Parade and Football.
Parade is a public march or procession honoring a particular occasion. The mood of a parade may vary from joyous excitement to solemn dignity. Many parades have floats, music, marchers, and trained animals.

Football originated in the United States. It began to develop during the mid-1800's. The sport grew out of soccer and Rugby, two kicking games that were developed in England. Soccer is called football in many countries, but the game differs considerably from American football.

The history of football:
Beginnings. Football began to develop during the mid-1800's, when a game similar to soccer was played in the Eastern United States. The object of the game was simply to kick a round ball across the other team's goal line. The teams sometimes had 30 or more players.

The first game resembling present-day football was played in 1874, when a team from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, visited Harvard University. The Canadian team wanted to play the English game of rugby, which permitted running with the ball and tackling. Harvard preferred to play its soccerlike game, in which players advanced the ball mainly by kicking. The teams agreed to play two games, the first under Harvard rules and the second under McGill rules. Harvard liked McGill's rugby game so much that it introduced the sport to other Eastern colleges. Running and tackling soon became as important as kicking in the U.S. game. Visit: Annie's Super Bowl Game

Life in Colonial America
The story of the American colonists tells of the men, women, and children who left behind the Old World of Europe for a new life in North America. It describes the everyday life of the settlers in the communities they developed. It also tells of the meeting of cultures, as Europeans and Indians came into contact with each other. The British American colonial period began in the late 1500's with English attempts to settle Newfoundland and Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina. It ended with the start of the Revolutionary War in America in 1775.

Many of the colonists came to North America from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. But the New World attracted settlers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and other European countries as well.

The majority of settlers came to the colonies for economic opportunity or to avoid political and religious unrest at home. However, not all colonists arrived voluntarily. The slave trade brought large numbers of people from Africa against their will. Some orphans were sent from England to America under labor contracts over which they had no control. Some English convicts were transported to the colonies to become servants.

Were the Indians and the Colonists really friendly?

When the Europeans arrived in North America, the continent was already home to many groups of Native Americans with many different cultures. The Indians were originally helpful to the colonists, and trade developed between the two groups. This trade changed the society of both the Indians and the settlers. The Indians strongly resisted the settlers' attempts to claim more and more Indian land. From time to time, fighting broke out between the colonists and the Indians. Eventually, the colonists pushed most of the Indians to the west.

Did the pilgrims come to America for Religious Freedom?

Yes they came for Religious and political reasons. Some of the colonists, beginning with the Pilgrims in 1620, came to the New World to create communities where they could worship in their own way. Throughout the colonial period, many groups headed for the colonies to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. Among those religious groups were Quakers and Roman Catholics from England, Huguenots from France, Moravians from Germany, and Jews from throughout Europe.

Many rulers insisted that all people living in their country attend the same church. They persecuted those who could not agree. For example, more than 100,000 Protestants known as Huguenots fled Roman Catholic France for other countries.

What is The Mayflower?

Mayflower was the ship that carried the first Pilgrims to America, in 1620. It was built around 1610 and probably had three masts and two decks. It probably measured about 90 feet (27 meters) long and weighed about 180 short tons (163 metric tons). Its master, Christopher Jones, was a quarter-owner.

The Mayflower left England on Aug. 15, 1620 (August 5 according to the calendar then in use) with another ship, the Speedwell. After turning back twice because of leaks on the Speedwell, the Mayflower sailed alone from Plymouth on September 16 (September 6), with 102 passengers. The ship reached Cape Cod on November 21 (November 11), off what is now Provincetown Harbor. It reached the present site of Plymouth, Mass., on December 26 (December 16), five days after a small party explored the site.

The Mayflower left America on April 15, 1621 (April 5, 1621). Historians are not certain what happened to the ship after it returned to England. Some believe it was dismantled after Jones died in 1622, although a ship called the Mayflower made trips to America after that. Others believe that William Russell bought the Mayflower for salvage, and used its hull as a barn roof. The barn stands in Jordans, a village outside London.

The Mayflower II, built the way the original Mayflower is thought to have looked, is kept in Plymouth, Mass. In 1957, it crossed the Atlantic in 54 days. The Britons who built the replica gave it to the American people as a symbol of friendship.

Learn about the Pilgrims
The Pilgrims. In the 1500's, some members of the Church of England, known as Puritans,favored reforms to "purify" the church. By the late 1500's, some Puritan congregations had broken away from the church entirely, and had become known as Separatists. Some Separatists sought religious freedom in Holland, then decided to begin a new life in America.

The early English settlers of New England became known as the Pilgrims. On Sept. 16, 1620, 41 Separatists and 61 other people from England became the first group of Pilgrims to journey to America. These Pilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England, in the Mayflower. That November, the Mayflower anchored in what is now Provincetown harbor. Before leaving the ship, the Pilgrims drew up a plan of self-government, which they called the Mayflower Compact. In December, they sailed across Cape Cod Bay and settled in Plymouth.

The Pilgrims suffered great hardships during their first winter in America. They had little food other than the game they could hunt. Their houses were crude bark shelters. About half the settlers died during the winter of 1620-1621. Early in 1621, the Pilgrims became friendly with some Indians. The Indians taught them how to plant corn and beans. By the time cold weather came again, the settlers were living more comfortably. They had enough food to last the winter. The Pilgrims celebrated the first New England Thanksgiving in 1621.

More settlers came to the Plymouth Colony during the years that followed. Within 20 years after the Pilgrims landed, Plymouth Colony had eight towns and about 2,500 people.

The Plymouth Colony:
Plymouth Colony, pronounced PLIHM uhth, was the second permanent English settlement in America. The colonists who settled there became known as Pilgrims because of their wanderings in search of religious freedom. In 1620, they established their colony on the rocky western shore of Cape Cod Bay in southeastern Massachusetts. This region had been called Plimouth on John Smith's map of New England, drawn in 1614. The Pilgrims established the Congregational Church in America. Plymouth Colony remained independent until 1691, when it became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims have become for all Americans a lesson of how a people with little more than courage, perseverance, and hard work could build themselves a home in a hostile world. Their bravery set an example for future generations of Americans.

Many tourists visit modern Plymouth with its memorials to the Pilgrim forefathers. Just south of town there is a model of the original Pilgrim village. Plimoth Plantation, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Pilgrim heritage, also maintains a replica of the first Pilgrim house and of the Mayflower.

How was The Plymouth Colony Founded?
Most of the Pilgrims were Separatists (Puritans who had separated from the Church of England). The government of England arrested and tried the Separatists because of their nonconformity (refusal to belong to the Church of England). In 1608, a group of Separatists moved to the Netherlands. After a few years, some of them became dissatisfied, and felt that things would be better in a new land. They secured financial backing in London, and, in 1620, left the Netherlands in a small ship called the Speedwell. The ship stopped in England, and the expedition was joined by other English people who hoped to better their lives. The group left England in the Speedwell and a larger ship, the Mayflower. The Speedwell proved unseaworthy, and the fleet returned to England twice. Finally, in September 1620, the Mayflower sailed alone from Plymouth, England. It carried 102 passengers, including women and children.

A rough passage of 65 days brought the Mayflower to Cape Cod on November 20 (November 10, according to the calendar then in use). The Pilgrims had promised to settle somewhere within the limits of the original grant of the Virginia Company of Plymouth. But errors in navigation led them to the New England region. Adverse winds and the shoals off Cape Cod forced the Mayflower to stay north. The ship anchored in Provincetown harbor inside the tip of Cape Cod on November 21.

The Pilgrim leaders were uncertain of their legal position because they were in the area without authority. They also knew they would need discipline among themselves. To solve these problems, 41 men aboard the Mayflower met and signed the Mayflower Compact, the first agreement for self-government in America. The Pilgrims also elected John Carver as their governor.

The landing at Plymouth. The sea-weary Pilgrims were anxious to learn more about the country. For almost a month, several small groups explored the coast around Cape Cod Bay while the rest remained aboard. One of the groups had to take refuge on an island in Plymouth harbor during a blinding snowstorm. On Dec. 21, 1620, this group landed at Plymouth. There they found a stream with clear water, some cleared land, and a high hill that could be fortified. This site was once an Indian village, but smallpox had wiped out all the Indians in 1617. The Pilgrims decided that this would be their new home. The Mayflower sailed across Cape Cod Bay and anchored in Plymouth harbor on December 26.

The first year was a difficult one for the Pilgrims. Poor and inadequate food, strenuous work, and changeable weather made the settlers susceptible to sickness. The colony lost about half its members that first winter.

But help came one spring morning, when an Indian walked into the little village and introduced himself to the startled people as Samoset. He later returned with Squanto. They introduced the Pilgrims to Massasoit, the sachem (chief) of the Wampanoag tribe that controlled all southeastern Massachusetts. Carver and the chief exchanged gifts and arranged a treaty of peace. Soon afterward, the Mayflower sailed for England, leaving the Pilgrims. Then Carver died, and William Bradford became governor of the colony.

The Pilgrims, under Squanto's direction, caught alewives (a fish in the herring family) and used them as fertilizer in planting corn, pumpkins, and beans. They hunted and fished for food. The harvest that year led Governor Bradford to declare a celebration. Sometime in the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends to join them in a three-day festival that we now call the first New England Thanksgiving. The menu included corn bread, duck, eel, goose, wild leeks, shellfish, venison, watercress, and wine.

Life in Plymouth Colony
The Pilgrims received legal rights to settle at Plymouth under a patent granted by the Council for New England in 1621. Governor Bradford received a new patent, the Warwick Patent, in 1630. It granted him all the land south of a line between Narragansett Bay and Cohasset. Under this patent, Bradford could have claimed ownership of the entire colony, but he shared control with the other settlers. He turned the patent over to all the freemen (voters) of the colony in 1640. A few years later, surveyors marked off an area corresponding to the present counties of Bristol, Barnstable, and Plymouth as the colony of Plymouth.

Expansion of the colony. In November 1621, the ship Fortune arrived with 35 new colonists. Other ships brought additional settlers but the population grew to only 300 settlers in 10 years. Some of the colonists decided to move from Plymouth to better lands. Some went north and established the towns of Duxbury, Marshfield, and Scituate. Others moved west to Rehoboth, or farther east on Cape Cod to settle Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Eastham.
Government. The men who signed the Mayflower Compact were the freemen of the colony. They, along with any newly chosen freemen, met once a year to discuss the problems of the colony. This body, called the General Court, elected the governor and his assistants, made laws, and levied taxes. In outlying towns, the freemen held town meetings to elect their own officers and settle town matters. Beginning in 1639, these towns sent representatives to the General Court at Plymouth.
Economic life. The Pilgrims organized a joint-stock company with some London merchants to finance the voyage. The partnership was to last for seven years. The Pilgrims agreed to put the results of their labor into a common fund, which would provide the necessities of life for the settlers. At the end of seven years, all the profits and property were to be divided among the financiers and the settlers. This experiment did not work out, and in 1623 the colony allowed settlers to farm individual plots. The London merchants in 1627 agreed to sell their interest in the company to the Pilgrims, who finished paying off the debt in 1648.

The Pilgrims at first expected to make a profit from fishing. But they were never very successful at this. They turned to farming for their existence and to fur trading for profit. When other Puritans settled Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628, the Pilgrims developed a prosperous trade in corn and cattle with them. Through steady and hard work, the colony was able to live moderately well without extremes of wealth or poverty.

The honored ones. William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth, wrote a history of the Pilgrims' adventure aboard the Mayflower.

For the Ship's Passenger List visit:
Annie's "Mayflower Passenger List" Page

Later years: The Massachusetts Bay Colony's superior harbor at Boston helped draw trade and settlers from Plymouth Colony. Boundary and trade disputes increased among the colonies that had formed in the area. The Pilgrims also faced the danger of attack by nearby Indians and Dutch and French colonists. In 1643, Plymouth Colony joined the Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven colonies in forming the New England Confederation. This alliance worked to settle disputes and provide for the common defense.

A long tradition of peace between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians ended in 1675. That year, Metacomet, the son of Massasoit, led an Indian war against the colonies in New England. The colonists called Metacomet King Philip, and the war became known as King Philip's War. The Indians attacked because they feared that the colonists would take all their land. Metacomet was killed in 1676, and the war in southern New England then ended. Fighting in northern New England continued until 1678. In 1686, King James II of England tried to reassert control over the colonies by combining Plymouth and the rest of New England, New York, and New Jersey into the Dominion of New England. However, the dominion proved unpopular and was disbanded in 1689. In 1691, Plymouth became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

What about the Indians?
Indian, American. The people now known as Indians or Native Americans were the firstpeople to live in the Americas. They had been living there for thousands of years before any Europeans arrived.

The area that would later become the Thirteen Colonies was also home to more than 500,000 Indians. The tribes in the north included the Massachusett, Pequot, and Wampanoag. Among the groups in the central part of the region were the Delaware, the Susquehannock, and the nations of the powerful Iroquois League--the Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, and Seneca. Farther south lived the Catawba, Cherokee, Creek, and other tribes.

The Indians of eastern North America generally lived in villages near fields where they grew corn, squash, and beans. They also hunted and fished, and gathered wild plants, nuts, and berries.

After European contact. The tribes of the Eastern Woodlands were among the first to meet European explorers and settlers. At first, the two groups had friendly relations. Squanto, a Patuxet, is said to have taught the white settlers how to plant corn and fertilize it with dead fish. Massasoit of the Wampanoag helped the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. In 1621, the Indians and Pilgrims joined in a Thanksgiving ceremony to give thanks for a good harvest and peace. But the friendly relations did not last, and warfare soon became common. Most of the early fighting consisted of small battles between settlers and Indians. Smallpox, measles, and other European diseases killed many Indians.

Is it celebrated in other countries?
"There are also Thanksgiving holidays celebrated every year in Japan, South Korea, the
Philippines, Laos, Liberia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Grenada, and the Virgin Islands."
Quoted From Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia


Other Related Pages by Annie:
Related - Annie's "Mayflower Passenger List" Page
Jakes "Thanksgiving Trivia Game" Page - you
can play it online or print it out and do it on
Thanksgiving Day!

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