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The First Thanksgiving & Thanksgiving Trivia

Thanksgiving Day History, Thanksgiving Facts Traditions & Thanksgiving Origin

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A Brief History of Thanksgiving

There's more to Thanksgiving history than the tale of pilgrims and American Indians sitting down to a feast upon the pilgrims' arrival in the New World. The first Thanksgiving was actually a three-day harvest festival celebrated by the European colonists and neighboring Native Americans. Other Thanksgiving Day history many don't know is that the day of Thanksgiving origin came to be a full year after the pilgrims' arrival, following a harsh winter where many of them died due to disease, malnutrition and exposure. Interesting Thanksgiving facts include how the English-speaking Native American Squanto, and other members of the Wampanoag tribe, helped the colonists survive in the New World by teaching them about planting, fishing and hunting.

The story of Thanksgiving history goes back to the arrival of the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor – some distance from the Europeans' intended destination of the Hudson River. The first Thanksgiving was certainly a welcome celebration after a year of illness, lack of food and fierce weather endured by the European colonists. Thanksgiving traditions began as an autumn festival celebrated by the pilgrims after a year of cultivating and a successful harvest. A piece of Thanksgiving trivia: The colony's governor, William Bradford, sent men on a mission to hunt fowl for the festivities, though lobster, seal and swans were on the menu, and the Wampanoag guests provided deer.

The Thanksgiving history of food enjoyed during the original festivities is much different from the foods served during Thanksgiving dinners of today. On that first Thanksgiving, there were no sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie. Interesting Thanksgiving trivia includes the fact that a turkey wasn't even on the menu! No Thanksgiving candy, cakes or pies of any kind were served, nor any sweet treats or candy gifts exchanged – the colonists' supply of sugar was depleted after their first year in the New World.

In addition to the Thanksgiving history of the Plymouth settlers and their harvest celebration, there are other events that led to today's annual festivities. That first Thanksgiving wasn't an annual event for the settlers. Thanksgiving traditions weren't introduced as a yearly celebration until almost two centuries later. The Thanksgiving origin as we know it today was announced in 1789 by President George Washington who proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be celebrated in November.
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