Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, for many reasons, but especially for the focus on hearth and home with loved ones and the opportunity to remember all the things that we are grateful for in our lives. One of the things I am grateful for is my work. I make my living doing something I love – helping good people be successful. The people I work with are business leaders, and when they are effective, their companies grow and thrive. In turn, their successful companies provide jobs, economic activity, produce important products and services, and share their talents and resources with the community. This is the mission for my business.
With my fondness for Thanksgiving, I was curious about the origins of this holiday. Included below is a very abbreviated (and likely incomplete) version of the story of the first Thanksgiving and a short history of the evolution of this national holiday. I hope you enjoy them.
This season of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express my appreciation for your friendship and goodwill. May your holidays be warm and wonderful and the coming year be bountiful.
The First Thanksgiving
Life was hard in the New World for the Pilgrims. Out of the 103 who emigrated from England in 1620 and crossed the Atlantic in the Mayflower, just 51 people survived the first winter. After the first harvest, Governor William Bradford declared a day of thanksgiving and prayer. The gathering took place outdoors in the Autumn of 1621. It was a 3-day event. Along with the Pilgrims, there were 90 Wampanoag Indians who had helped the colonists get settled. The Indians brought 5 deer to the celebration and along with the venison, they all feasted on roast duck, roast goose, wild turkey, cornbread, squash, berries, maple sugar, wild plums and pumpkins.
A Short History of the Holiday
In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming November 26 a day of national thanksgiving. For many years, there was no national holiday, although some states observed a yearly Thanksgiving holiday. In 1863, President Lincloln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving, a tradition that was followed by presidents every year for 74 years. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt moved the date up one week earlier to help business by extending the shopping period before Christmas. In 1941, Congress ruled that the fourth Thursday in November would be a legal federal holiday. Thus, we have Thanksgiving, the holiday.