Did You Know?
Amazing Thanksgiving Facts
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
…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
… 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”?