The Story Behind Thanksgiving

Haven Gutierrez, Journalist

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  Thanksgiving, a day to give thanks for all we have, is a particularly American holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The date was chosen while Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, and  has stayed the same from 1942 and on.

During September 1620, a ship called the Mayflower with 102 passengers on board left Plymouth, England so they could have religious freedom. After 66 awful days, they came to shore at Cape Cod, which was not their destination. A month later, the Mayflower sailed to Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims began to establish a village located in Plymouth.

     The Pilgrims had settled on land that was once occupied by the Patuxet Indians, and  all but one died from a plague. The Pilgrims suffered a very harsh winter. Most of them took shelter in the Mayflower, resulting in about half of them dying from many diseases. When they were at their worst, the last surviving member of the Patuxet tribe, Squanto, taught then how to grow crops and catch certain animals. He also helped them build a foundation of trust between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians which lasted for more than 50 years. Later that year he died from a plague.

     Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag Indians, also supplied the Pilgrims with food when their supplies from England ran out. In the following years, the Pilgrims and the Indians made a peace treaty saying that they wouldn’t hurt each other, and if they did they would be punished by the other. 

     In November 1621, the Pilgrims had grown their very first successful harvest of corn. Due to this accomplishment, a celebratory meal was organized by William Bradford they and invited their new allies, which also included Chief Massasoit. The meal lasted three days, and is now known as the first Thanksgiving.