History Of Thanksgiving in the United States – All you need to know

Meaning and Origin of Thanksgiving in America

Thanksgiving in the United States originated in October 1621. Over 400 years ago, English Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts shared a meal with their native Wampanoag neighbors to celebrate the abundance of food and the end of harvest. 

The event lasted three days, involving feasting, games, and military exercises. There was surprisingly much diplomacy between the natives and the pilgrims; this celebration gave birth to one of the biggest annual celebrations in the United States, Thanksgiving.

Today, Americans sit down to eat with family and friends every year on the fourth Thursday in November to commemorate the big feast of the pilgrims in 1621. It serves as an avenue for them to give thanks for all the previous year’s blessings. 

How Thanksgiving became a national Holiday

The pilgrims started the first Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t a holiday until the third of October in 1863. Due to the trauma of the civil war.

During the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln believed Thanksgiving might help unite the divided country. He then declared the last Thursday of every November as a thanksgiving to celebrate the end of a war-filled year. This declaration eventually created increased importance in the thanksgiving celebration.

Lincoln’s declaration of Thanksgiving every last Thursday of November was widely accepted and celebrated for decades regardless of the date, as sometimes it could be on the 30th, as it happened in 1939. 

During this particularly late Thanksgiving, some merchants were worried that it could cut down on Christmas sales and dampen economic recovery. They began to beg President Roosevelt to move it up by a week which he did. This change created chaos for a couple of years as many disagreed with their suggestion.



Is Thanksgiving celebrated only in America?

Thanksgiving as a national holiday is not particular to the US alone; a few countries have their own Thanksgiving with different yet similar beliefs.  

Thanksgiving is celebrated on other dates in Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Liberia.


Thanksgiving is arguably one of the most important feasts in the United States today. Millions of Americans gather with their families and friends to enjoy a large feast of; roasted turkey, stuffing potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. For others, watching and playing football is as important as the holiday and all the feasting. During this period, several Americans love to watch the Detroit Lions play American Football which has been a tradition since 1934 till date. When the team took on the undefeated, defending world champions Chicago Bears of George Halas. The lions played every football on Thanksgiving after losing the inaugural game.