Thanksgiving Guide To...

History of Thanksgiving

Why we celebrate Thanksgiving

We all know the basics…let's see. There were these Pilgrim guys and gals and they invited the Native Americans to join with them to be thankful for a great harvest thing, and they had turkey and all the trimmings…doesn't it go something like that?

Kind of. It was 1621 (and I'm not sure that they had turkey, I'm surmising). Actually, that first time, they didn't call it Thanksgiving, they called it an English harvest celebration. It wasn't until 1676 that the first Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by the people of Charleston, Massachusetts. The last paragraph of the proclamation says it all (they didn't spell so well back then)…

"The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being perswaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and soulds as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ."

Thus, by unanimous vote, the Charleston council instructed Clerk Edward Rawson to proclaim June 29 as a day of the first thanksgiving. Look what that Rawson guy started!

But wait, that may have been the first proclamation, but according to records, the first NATIONAL Thanksgiving wasn't celebrated until 1777 (when it was declared by the Continental Congress). But that still wasn't Thanksgiving as we know it today. Thanksgiving as we know it today was "coined" in 1863 when the "first of our last-Thursday-in-November annual Thanksgivings was celebrated."

There's more information on the true history of Thanksgiving. According to, no one even remembered the Pilgrims, etc., until the mid-19th century-and Thanksgiving was looked upon as a Yankee dinner and family reunion of sorts.