In 1621, when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the Harvest Home tradition with feasting and sport (recreation).To these people of strong Christian faith, this was not merely a revel; it was also a joyous outpouring of gratitude.The arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans brought new Thanksgiving traditions to the American scene.
Florida, Texas, Maine and Virginia each declare itself the site of the First Thanksgiving and historical documents support the various claims.
Spanish explorers and other English Colonists celebrated religious services of thanksgiving years before arrived.
However, few people knew about these events until the 20th century.
Giving thanks for the Creator’s gifts had always been a part of Wampanoag daily life.
From ancient times, Native People of North America have held ceremonies to give thanks for successful harvests, for the hope of a good growing season in the early spring, and for other good fortune such as the birth of a child.
Giving thanks was, and still is, the primary reason for ceremonies or celebrations.
As with Native traditions in America, celebrations - complete with merrymaking and feasting - in England and throughout Europe after a successful crop are as ancient as the harvest-time itself.
The word evokes images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and, of course, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, the acknowledged founders of the feast. For information on food at the First Thanksgiving, go to Partakers of our Plenty.
This article explores the development of our modern holiday.