When was the first Thanksgiving and which president made it a national holiday?
THANKSGIVING became a national holiday in the 19th century after several centuries of feasting by colonists in the New World.
This commemorative day became a holiday during the US' darkest and bloodiest period in its history.
When was the first Thanksgiving?
Colonists from Plymouth, England, shared a three-day feast with Native Americans in the New World in November of 1621.
However, this feast was neither named "Thanksgiving" nor did it inspire a national holiday.
Nevertheless, History.com stated that the meal did not feature desserts such as pies or cakes due to the dwindling supplies that the Pilgrims brought on the Mayflower.
Thus, the dishes were likely prepared using Native American methods.
Which president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?
During the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.
In declaring Thanksgiving Day as a holiday, President Lincoln stated: "commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife" and to "heal the wounds of the nation".
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving was to be celebrated on the last Thursday of every November.
This Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated in accordance with Lincoln's proclamation from 1863 until President Franklin Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday from the last Thursday of November to the penultimate Thursday in November, with the aim of boosting retail sales during the Great Depression.
Nevertheless, President Roosevelt had to reverse his decision in 1941 due to the severe opposition he encountered from supporters of Lincoln's initial proclamation.
Thus, Roosevelt had to reluctantly sign a bill to officially make Thanksgiving the last Thursday in November.
What does Thanksgiving mean in the 21st century?
As a tradition that had a more religious significance, several Americans have veered away from this to focus on cooking and sharing meals during Thanksgiving in the 21st century.
Interestingly, turkey has become synonymous with Thanksgiving even though it is unclear whether Turkey was even part of the dishes offered during the first feast with the Native Americans in 1621.
Indeed, turkey has become a staple on Thanksgiving to the extent that the National Turkey Federation has estimated that about 90 percent of Americans eat turkey during Thanksgiving.
Who was Sarah Josepha Hale?
Sarah Josepha Hale was famous for writing the children's poem Mary Had a Little Lamb – and she also was known for lobbying to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.
The prominent writer and editor routinely celebrated the holiday and urged many leaders to make it an official one.
Her 1827 novel Northwood: A Tale of New England featured a chapter about Thanksgiving.
Hale, who helped shape Vassar College in New York, lived nearly a century before passing away in 1879.
Her final plea to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward came in 1863, and Thanksgiving soon became a holiday.
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