A History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving marks the start of the annual holiday season and we don’t know about you, but we are ready for a double helping of turkey and all the fixins’. And then a nap. And then football on TV. While we love turkey leftovers for days, the best part of the holiday is that family and close friends come together. The chaos of the outside world recedes and the warm glow from the spirit of togetherness as well as from the bird slowly browning in the oven fills American homes. Thanksgiving is a day when patriots count their blessings and recount what they are thankful for from the year past.

Most Americans are familiar with how the first Thanksgiving came to be. In 1621, the Pilgrims endured harsh conditions after making the voyage over to America on the Mayflower. Many did not survive that first winter. As the remaining Pilgrims built their settlement in Plymouth Bay, they befriended local Native Americans and made an alliance with the Wampanoag tribe, who helped the Pilgrims survive those first lean years in a new land. Squanto, a local Native American who had been kidnapped and taken to England about a decade earlier, spoke English and taught the Pilgrims how to grow and fertilize native crops, including corn. The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the first successful harvest in the new world to which the Pilgrims invited about 90 of their Native American allies. The Pilgrims had much to be thankful for that first Thanksgiving, especially after having endured such hardship the previous winter.

National days of Thanksgiving date all the way back to 1777 when the first National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued by the Continental Congress, which 13 colonies commemorated. The holiday wasn’t celebrated regularly until the middle of the Civil War in 1863. Prompted by a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale, who had campaigned to establish Thanksgiving as a National Holiday, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November 1863, and since then it has been observed annually in the United States. Lincoln’s proclamation, penned by Secretary of State William Seward, was issued just months after the Battle of Gettysburg. It reads in part:

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidable engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.”

It was Abraham Lincoln who started the tradition of the official presidential turkey pardon, and one lucky bird’s life has been spared every year since by each subsequent Commander-in-Chief. What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? As kids, we remember starting the day off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The parade dates back to 1924, and every year 2 to 3 million spectators watch in person along the 2.5-mile route through New York City. Football on Thanksgiving is an American tradition dating back to 1934 when the National Football League played its first Thanksgiving Day games. A highlight for us is watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving every year. We remember being young and looking forward to the day when we could invite our friends over for a Thanksgiving feast consisting of popcorn, pretzel sticks, jelly beans, and buttered toast.

If you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year, we have a few suggestions to really make it special. We’ve got some Thanksgiving-themed glassware that will be a huge hit with your guests:



Happy Thanksgiving to all you patriots out there. We are thankful to you for your support and for being part of the Patriot’s Cave community. We hope that you and yours are granted the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

Leave A Comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published