Thanksgiving has a long history in the United States, but throughout the years the meaning of the day has remained the same: a day to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.
In the fall of 1620, a group of Pilgrims left England on the Mayflower in search of a new home where they could practice their faith freely. They landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with only half of the original passengers survived the harsh winter in the new land.
In the spring, the Pilgrims met Squanto, who was a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, and he taught the settlers how to grow corn, catch fish in the rivers, and use the land around them. He also helped them become friends with the Wampanoag tribe. In November of 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest, both the Pilgrims and their Native American allies had a feast in thanksgiving of their success.
The tradition continued throughout the years to celebrate various events. President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789, after the American Revolution, to celebrate the end of the war and the ratification of our Constitution.
But it wasn’t until 1863, at the height of the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation marked the last Thursday of each November to be set aside as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” The proclamation encouraged Americans to put aside their differences and reaffirm their belief that the United States was a sovereign nation and its citizens were united together under God.
To this day, Thanksgiving continues to be a time for us to put aside our differences and break bread together. Whether you are celebrating the day with turkey, football, or some other tradition in your family, it’s a time to spend with loved ones and thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us.
From my family to yours, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.