The pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts who initiated the American tradition of giving thanks, after the autumn harvest, had good reasons to be grateful. They had survived a grueling sixty six day voyage aboard the Mayflower ship and a bitter winter in a strange new land that claimed the lives of nearly half their members. By the end of the summer of 1621, thanks to their hard labor, and the help of the local Wampanoag Indian tribe, they had corn and other crops to harvest. Governor W. Bradford set aside a day of prayer and feasting for the colony. Some pilgrim moments, as seen in the slide show below, were from a reenactment at Pound Ridge in Connecticut
Thanksgiving became a regular holiday in 1863 as writer Sarah Josepha Hale (author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) prompted president Lincoln to set aside the last Thursday in November as a Day of Thanksgiving. The tradition of the fantastical morning long Macy’s Parade began in 1926. In 1941 Congress legally established the 4th Thursday in November, as the celebration day, to the benefit of a longer Christmas shopping season.
Wherever American family and friends gather to say grace and give thanks, the menu for the meal to follow is composed of traditional ingredients such as sweet potatoes, corn bread, creamed onions, herbed stuffing, cranberry and apple sauce, cider, pumpkin pie and a magnificent turkey!