Thanksgiving is a day of "thanks" celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada each November. More specifically the fourth Thursday in November. In 2011 Thanksgiving will fall on November 24th. Thanksgiving is observed by both Federal and State Governments as a major holiday. The history of Thanksgiving is one of great debate. So how did Thanksgiving begin?
Thanksgiving originated in North American from a hodgepodge of ideas from both Native and European traditions. In the United States the modern Thanksgiving holiday as we know it today can be traced back to 1621; however, some believe it goes back even further to 1565. In 1565 Spanish explorers in Florida had a harvest celebration. The celebration we think of as the first official Thanksgiving, the one that took place in 1621, was held at Plymouth, in the state that is now known as Massachusetts.
The 1621 celebration and feast was the result of a good harvest that year. This harvest is reported to be in part thanks to the help and wisdom of the Wampanoage Native American Tribes. These Native Americans helped teach the Pilgrims how to fish and plant various seeds for food and reproducing crops. History reports the Pilgrims did not have enough food or skills to feed themselves.
The history of Thanksgiving is still up to debate these days. Some disagree on the location and who actually started and founded the holiday. Some believe it was the United States, some do not agree. Some historians believe the first Thanksgiving was founded by the Spanish in 1565.
Regardless of the dates and where it was founded one thing everyone can agree on is the meaning - to give thanks. More specifically in earlier times it was to give thanks for food and bounty, something that was not easy to come by back then. The first Thanksgiving is reported to have served very different foods than the ones Thanksgiving is known for today.
Native Americans and Pilgrims were reported to feast on fish, shellfish, fowl, venison, berries, peas, pumpkin, beetroot and grains. Another important staple they were known to feed on was maize which is also known as corn. Although some of those foods overlap with today, not many do. The history of Thanksgiving also focuses on days of prayer thanking God for bountiful blessings and good crops.