A History of Thanksgiving

Written by: Elizabeth Patrick

Thanksgiving is a day for spending time with family and friends while being grateful for what they have.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday and is annually celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

This year Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Thursday, November 25.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.

For more than two centuries, days of Thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. This changed in 1863 during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday that would be celebrated annually each November.

In 1817, New York was one of the first of several states to adopt Thanksgiving as an annual holiday. Throughout the years, the original Thanksgiving celebration has lost most of its religious significance; now it is centered on cooking and sharing a meal with family and friends.

One of the most popular Thanksgiving traditions is to eat turkey whether it is roasted, baked, or deep-fried. Other common dishes include stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. 

To go along with cooking meals and enjoying them with family and friends, volunteering is also a very popular activity. Communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.

Throughout the years, parades have also become a very popular Thanksgiving day tradition. One of the most popular and famous Thanksgiving day parades is the Macy’s Day New York City parade. This parade attracts two to three million people every year along its 2.5-mile route. This famous parade typically features various marching bands, performers, elaborate floats containing various celebrities, and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.

Another popular Thanksgiving day tradition is to watch an American football game. The tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving day dates back as early as 1876.

Running turkey trots is also a very popular Thanksgiving day tradition and people run anywhere from a 5k to a half marathon.

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday and is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. The term “Black Friday” was first used on September 24, 1869, when two investors, Jay Gloud and Jim Fisk, drove up the price of gold and caused a crash that day. As a result of the crash, the stock market dropped 20% and foreign trade stopped. On this day farmers also suffered a 50% dip in wheat and corn values.

Stores all across the country have some of their biggest sales of the year. While this tradition has changed over the years due to online shopping, millions of people will still stand in lines for hours early in the morning to get great discounts and start their Christmas shopping.

To finalize, throughout the years, Thanksgiving has turned into a very famous holiday with a wide variety of different traditions including eating a feast, watching football, and going shopping on Black Friday.

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