History Of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in countries and varying dates in the United States of America, Canada, Liberia, Saint Lucia and Grenada. Thanksgiving can be traced back to religious and cultural traditions but has been celebrated as a secular holiday for years. It started as a celebration of harvest where thanks is given for a bountiful harvest.

Giving thanks by word of of prayer is a common practice amongst many groups or religions after a bountiful harvest which is usually followed by a huge feast and celebrations. The history of Thanksgiving is linked to English Traditions which can be traced to the Protestant Reformation.

Earliest documentation of the annual Thanksgiving holiday tradition in the United States of America date far back as 1619, in what is now known as the commonwealth of Virginia. English sailors aboard the ship Margaret arrived through the James River at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia in December 4, 1619. Their safe landing was marked with merrymaking, led by the group’s Charter from the London company. The charter declared, “that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” The original celebration has been marked there every year, since the mid 20th century at what is now present-day Berkeley plantation.

There has always been disparity as to where the first Thanksgiving celebration was held, with devotees of New England and Virginia expressing different sentiments regarding claims to having held the first Thanksgiving celebration in the United. James Barker maintains, “The American holiday’s true origin was the New England Calvinist Thanksgiving. Never coupled with a Sabbath meeting, the Puritan observances were special days set aside during the week for thanksgiving and praise in response to God’s providence.”

There has always been a sense of uncertainty in the fixing of a date for the Thanksgiving celebration. Earlier Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada have been said to come off at the onset of winter in the North. Thanksgiving celebration in Canada had no fixed date until the late 19th century. The first official Thanksgiving celebration took place on April 15, 1872, in celebration of the Prince of Wales’ recovery from serious sickness. The Canadian parliament set the date for Thanksgiving on its present date on the second Monday of October. It is to be noted that Thanksgiving is celebrated in many countries all with their specific dates for its celebration.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, which happens to be today, since 1941. Thanksgiving in the United States has been celebrations of the blessings and goodness of the year including that of a good harvest. Thanksgiving the United States is usually celebrated with family dinners, where drink and eat in appreciation of a good year, while some attend church or do something fun like watching sports events.

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