Popular tradition has it that Thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims, and it did. Sort of.
The European settlers landed first at Plymouth, but ran into very unhappy natives, so they headed south and settled in Cape Cod. The winter was a disaster, but the following spring, a couple of the local Indians taught them survival strategies and ways to grow food more effectively.
In the fall, the colony threw a party and invited the Indians who helped them out. The food was more than our usual turkey day dinner. Pretty much any food they had to share, was shared. Sports were involved … but I’m pretty sure football wasn’t one of them.
This was not a yearly gig. There were a couple other celebrations in the 1600s and 1700s, but the yearly phenomenon didn’t start until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
There was some jockeying around with the date. President Franklin Roosevelt moved it around to give retailers more time for Christmas sales, a sneaky trick he though would contribute to America’s recovery from the Depression.
So, who locked it to the 4th Thursday of November? Congress in 1941.
How does your family celebrate the day?
Source material for this week and last: