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The First Thanksgiving


Part 2: The Rest of the Story

That year, William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was really a day of fasting and prayer. (Remember, fasting is when you don't eat. So, Thanksgiving started out as a day of not eating.) And the day the members of the Plymouth Colony celebrated this day of fasting and prayer in thanksgiving was November 29.

So we have two ideas coming together: a day of thanksgiving for the fall harvest, on which people fasted and prayed, and a great feast to celebrate the bounty of the fall harvest. Since both activities celebrated the same thing--the fall harvest--it's only natural that they eventually merged (like so many other American holidays).

This merged celebration continued informally through the years, until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday of November a national holiday called Thanksgiving.

How did we decide on eating Turkey? Well, that's another story.

First page > The Beginning of the Story > Page 1, 2

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday


 
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