What is the History of Thanksgiving? and why we celebrate

Historians long considered the first Thanksgiving to have taken place in 1621, when the Mayflower pilgrims who founded the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts sat down for a three-day meal with the Wampanoag.

We’ve scoured different sources to clear the doubt about Thanksgiving. From, when it became a national holiday to just how the first Thanksgiving came to be-and it is not the answer many learned in elementary school.  

Each year Thanksgiving is the start of a new holiday season. But just how has this holiday come to be what it is in the United States? 

Which first state to have an annual Thanksgiving holiday?

Days of thanksgiving were an occasional event in New England, and the Continental Congress designated at least one day of thanksgiving each year. It was President George Washington who issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789, and New York became the first state to adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday in 1817.

Which Southern state first to recognize Thanksgiving?

In 1855, Virginia became the nation’s first Southern state to adopt Thanksgiving. Before then it was considered a primarily “Yankee” or Northern day of thanks.

Some Southern states didn’t recognize the day until well into the 20th century. Arkansas and Mississippi declared their states’ first ever Thanksgiving Days in 1947.

When did it become a nationally recognized day?  

President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation making Thanksgiving a national holiday during the Civil War in 1863, according to the Indiana State Museum.  

Originally Lincoln called for Thanksgiving to be recognized on the last Thursday of November. This tradition continued until 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up by one week. In 1941, Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November. 

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