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Every last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving is celebrated across the United States. But what is Thanksgiving? How did this holiday begin and, what does this day mean for us now?

Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday in 1789 by President George Washington. However, the holiday was celebrated off and on until 1942 when Congress officially established the 4th Thursday of November as Thanksgiving.

 

The holiday originated as a harvest celebration that marked the beginning of the winter season. Many countries and cultures celebrate the harvest season, but the event that Americans call the “First Thanksgiving” took place in 1621. This day was an observance of the Pilgrims’ first harvest in the New World. The celebration consisted of a three-day feast attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe. 

Today, Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, gratefulness, and opportunities to serve others in our homes and communities. In addition, many consider Thanksgiving a memorable holiday because it is an entire day that family and friends spend together playing games, watching football, reminiscing, and telling stories. In addition, families gather together and eat a meal with foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, stuffing, and dressing. Pumpkin pie and pecan pie are traditional dessert favorites.

Along with food, fun, and football, consider implementing one or more of these Thanksgiving traditions into your holiday. 

  1. Talk to others in your family (especially grandparents) about how they spent Thanksgiving as a child. Listen to their stories and write them in a journal. 
  2. Think about what you are thankful for and share your thoughts with your friends and family. 
  3. Make and decorate the table with Thanksgiving crafts. 
  4. Serve and help others. 

Thanksgiving, for many, is a time for gratitude because of having all that is needed. A home, plenty of food, clothing, and more. Unfortunately, this is not true for everyone. Brainstorm and discover ways to help those in your community where there is a need. Donating to a food bank or homeless shelter is a great idea. Or consider performing a random act of kindness for a neighbor, plant a tree, or step up your recycling efforts; these are all great ways to give back to your community. 

This week, explore the history of this American holiday and look for ways to help others. In the comments below, we’d love to hear your ideas for giving and sharing as well as your favorite Thanksgiving food! It would also be nice to hear what you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Resources:

The First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Crafts

National Geographic-The First Thanksgiving

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