Thanksgiving Facts

Thanksgiving Facts

Thanksgiving facts are sometimes forgotten in the current day celebration of the holiday. Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States each year as a day to give thanks for the bounty on the table and the good tidings a family has received. The first harvest celebration at Plymouth Colony is considered the basis for our modern day Thanksgiving. During this celebration the Pilgrims gave thanks for those who had survived the first winter, the food they had collected and for the meat brought to them by the native Wampanoag Indians.

Plymouth Rock

Voyagers to the new world arrived at Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts aboard the Mayflower. After setting anchor, smaller boats called shallops were used to get to land. The famous Plymouth Rock is made of Dedham granodiorite. It is much smaller today than it was in 1621, due to curiosity seekers chipping away at the once much larger rock.

The Mayflower

The Pilgrims, also known as Separatists, traveled from Southampton, England to the new world on board the Mayflower. The ship held 102 passengers and approximately 30 crew members. The ship left England on September 6, 1620 and arrived in Cape Cod on November 11 after going off-course. On March 21, 1621 the ship finally arrived in Plymouth harbor.

Plymouth Plantation

The Plymouth Colony was also known as New Plymouth. Twenty-seven of the voyagers were in search of religious freedom. They were led by pastor John Robinson, church elder William Brewster and William Bradford. The other 75 voyagers were entrepreneurs willing to start fresh in a new land.

Native Indians in Plymouth

The Wampanoag Indians were the first people the Pilgrims met upon landing in Plymouth. Introductions were made between the groups by a native known as Samoset. The chief of Samoset's tribe, the Wampanoags, was Massasoit. Tisquantum (also known as Squanto), a local Patuxet Indian, agreed to stay with the colonists to translate for them while they established their colony.

A Harvest Celebration

The first Thanksgiving would have been a harvest celebration and not called "thanksgiving." It is believed that this celebration occurred in October of 1621. In attendance were the 53 surviving colonists, chief Massasoit and 90 of his tribe. According to the book, Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, the group partook of venison, fowl and fish.

Thanksgiving Dinner Today

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated with friends and family. Common foods that are shared on this holiday include turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and corn. These foods are served as representatives of the native foods grown around the Plymouth Colony.

A National Holiday

During Abraham Lincoln's term in office, he declared that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The United States Congress made Thanksgiving an official national holiday in 1941.

Home school children may write about these Thanksgiving facts and others by using Homeschooling Notebooking Ideas.

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Thanksgiving Facts