The Plymouth colonists along with the Wampanoag Indians held a harvest feast in 1621 – a holiday that is now being called Thanksgiving. The enforceable law was passed by President Lincoln only in 1863.
Mayflower, a small cruise ship, departed from Plymouth (the UK) in September 1620 with its passengers searching for a new homeland where they could enjoy religious freedoms and become residents of the New World. The ship arrived to the tip of Cape God instead of getting to the initial destination – the Hudson River. They crossed Massachusetts Bay a month after and began establishing the village of Plymouth. They called themselves Pilgrims.
People lived through the winter on the ship, but the winter was so cold that half of the passengers simply died. They had an encounter with Squanto, a Native American from the Pawtuxet tribe. The man showed them how to grow corn, fish, and many other crops.
Pilgrims’ first harvest of corn in November 1621 was outstanding, so their Governor William Bradford invited the Native Americans to celebrate with them what is now called “Thanksgiving.” There was a great preparation to the event with many meals prepared using Native American spices and recipes.
This feast is not so much connected with its religious significance in the modern US. It is about cooking a great and tasty meal, and sharing it with friends, family, and other people dear to your heart. Despite the fact that it remains unknown whether the roast turkey was served during the original feast in 1621, this dish has remained a symbol of this celebration ever since. The vast majority of the US citizens (about 90% of them) cook it on Thanksgiving Day. Among the other most common festive meals are potatoes, stuffing, and a pumpkin pie. Volunteering has evolved as a significant part and a symbol of Thanksgiving as well.
Parades are also almost ubiquitous on this day. Macy’s department store, for instance, has been organizing Thanksgiving Day parades in New York since 1924, attracting from two to three million members and spectators.