A Brief History of Thanksgiving

by Rachael Priest on November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is an exciting time of year for most Americans. It marks the beginning of the festive holiday season and is hallmarked by lovely fall flowers, cornucopias, images of Pilgrims and Native Americans, and of course, the bountiful feasts of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pies. But do you know where this November tradition came from and why we still celebrate it today?

The First Thanksgiving

What we all learned in grade school as the first Thanksgiving was actually a harvest feast that lasted 3 days in 1621. It came after the Mayflower Pilgrims suffered great hardships both on the journey to Plymouth and in the months that followed. With help from the Native Americans, they learned how to cultivate corn, harvest maple sap, and recognize plants that were both useful and dangerous. The feast was a harvest celebration of the bounty they had gathered, as well as the peaceful partnership between the European settlers and the indigenous Native Americans.

Early Thanksgivings

After this first celebration, many more followed over the next 200 years, but it wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Before that, colonies and states celebrated the harvest according to their own schedules. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as the national Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate today, in an attempt to soothe the tension that came from the Civil War.

The date for Thanksgiving experienced some uncertainty in 1939 when Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested moving it up one week in order to stimulate the economy during the Great Depression. This idea, however, was met with much resistance, and in 1941 the traditional date was reinstated and remains today.

Thanksgiving Today

Today, Thanksgiving is mostly considered to be the beginning of the holiday season. It is a time to gather with family and enjoy feasting and fellowship. In the excitement surrounding the start of the Christmas shopping season and the dazzling decorations that begin to spring up all around us, it can be easy to forget why Thanksgiving exists in the first place.

It is important to remember, however, that the original meaning behind Thanksgiving is exactly what the holiday’s name would suggest: giving thanks for all the bounty one has been blessed with during the year. In America, even in the trying economic times we face, we should remember that we still are more fortunate than the vast majority of the rest of the world. While we may not dine on filet mignon every night, most of us have plenty of food, shelter, clean water, and most importantly, our freedom.

We hope that this Thanksgiving you find many blessings to be thankful for, whether it is your health, a secure job when so many are jobless, the ability to prepare delightful dishes for your family, your children, or your faith. Every time we gaze upon an overflowing cornucopia, admire the beautiful flowers of the season, or experience the tantalizing aroma of roasting turkey, let us take a moment to pause and acknowledge how blessed we truly are. This is our prayer for you and your family as you celebrate this Thanksgiving season.

Even though Thanksgiving is nearly here, there is still time to get your table decorations if you haven’t already. Call us at Buds ‘n Bows Flower Shop for your cornucopias, chrysanthemums, and other Thanksgiving flower arrangements. Many of our silk stock and gift items are on sale right now, so you can have a beautiful table centerpiece and save money at the same time. Give us a call at 706-743-5830 or visit our website to order.


{ 1 comment }

Lilliam Schammel January 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was looking for!

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