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Amazing Thanksgiving Facts

  • DYK? powered by Prof. Walter that the earliest attested "thanksgiving" celebration in what is now the United States was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8, 1565 in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida?

  • that on December 4, 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred, which comprised about 8,000 acres on the north bank of the James River, near Herring Creek, in an area then known as Charles Cittie, about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia had been established on May 14, 1607? The group's charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a "day of thanksgiving" to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodleaf held the service of thanksgiving.

  • that the Mayflower, carrying 102 settlers, left Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 21, 1620?

  • that the original festival was probably held in early October 1621 and was celebrated by the 53 surviving Pilgrims, along with American Indian, Massasoit and 90 of his men, was more properly termed a "harvest festival" than a “thanksgiving”?

  • that the Pilgrims were particularly thankful to Squanto, the American Indian who taught them how to catch eel and grow corn and who served as an interpreter for them (Squanto had learned English as a slave in Europe and travels in England)?

  • that the Pilgrims held an even greater Thanksgiving celebration, after a switch from communal farming to privatized farming, a fast, and a refreshing 14-day rain resulted in a larger harvest, on Wednesday, July 30, 1623?

  • that the Massachusetts Bay Colony (consisting mainly of Puritan Christians) celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time in 1630, and frequently thereafter until about 1680, when it became an annual festival in that colony?

  • that Connecticut celebrated “thanksgiving” as early as 1639 and annually after 1647, except in 1675?

  • that the Dutch in New Netherland appointed a day for giving thanks in 1644 and occasionally thereafter.

  • that Charlestown, Massachusetts held the first recorded Thanksgiving observance June 29, 1671 by proclamation of the town's governing council.

  • that George Washington, leader of the revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a Thanksgiving in December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga.

  • that as President, on October 3, 1789, George Washington made a proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America.

  • that in the middle of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale, proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863 and since 1863, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States?

  • that Abraham Lincoln's successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving; however, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition because November had five Thursdays that year (instead of the usual four), and Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one?

  • that on December 26, 1941 President Roosevelt signed this bill, for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law.

  • that United States tradition compares the holiday with a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts and it has continued in modern times with the Thanksgiving dinner, traditionally featuring turkey, playing a large role in the celebration of Thanksgiving.

  • that stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, maize, other fall vegetables, and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner and all of these primary dishes are actually native to the Americas or were introduced as a new food source to the Europeans when they arrived.

  • that the Detroit Lions of the National Football League have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1934, with the exception of 1939- 1944 (due to World War II)?

  • ... that the American winter holiday season (generally the Christmas shopping season in the U.S.) traditionally begins the day after Thanksgiving called “Black Friday”?

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