It is believed that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 in Massachusetts at the Plymouth Plantation. It is also believed that there was an earlier Thanksgiving celebration by the Spanish in Florida around 1565 and in Canada in 1578. Thanksgiving is traditionally a harvest festival to give thanks for a good harvest and to express appreciation. The origins of thanksgiving are uncertain and the exact date of the original Thanksgiving is disputed. Though originally a religious holiday it is now mainly a secular holiday. The original Thanksgiving is influenced by harvest festivals that were common in Europe during that period. The earliest account of thanksgiving was in 1565 in what is now modern day St. Augustine Florida by Spanish explorers on September 8. Thanksgiving is also a holiday celebrated in Holland and around the same time of year on the island of Granada a different holiday with the same name is celebrated.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated on several different dates throughout history. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the last Thursday in November had become the final affixed date for Thanksgiving in most of the U.S.A. It wasn’t until December 26, 1941 after Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to push the holiday to an earlier date to boost the economy that a bill was passed to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In Canada Thanksgiving was traditionally held on November 6 ever since the late 19 century. After World War 1 Armistice day and Thanksgiving were celebrated during the same Monday in which November 11 occurred and then in 1931 they became separate holidays. When World War 1 came to an end in 1918 Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving in Canada were celebrated during the same week. To prevent Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day from interfering with one another in 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed the holiday be celebrated on the second Monday in October.
The turkey the main course in the Thanksgiving dinner was introduced to the pilgrims in 1620 by the Wampanoag tribe shortly after arriving in America. When the pilgrims arrived in America they could not produce any usable crops and the Indians introduced them to all the native foods like squash and corn as well as taught them how to fish and hunt. When the first Thanksgiving feast was held the Native Americans were invited as honored guests. Benjamin Franklin thought that the turkey was the right choice for the national symbol of America due to the fact that it had sharp eyesight and was a good runner but the bald eagle would later become the symbol of the U.S. The turkey had become so popular during the Thanksgiving feast that by 1916 Thanksgiving Day was referred to as turkey day. Due to the turkey’s popularity they were nearly wiped out and the government stepped in and protected the bird in 1991 and now can be found in 49 states. For some people turkey doesn’t sound very appetizing so some refer ham or roast pork or even chicken as an alternative to turkey.