Every year on the fourth Thursday in November, millions of Americans nationwide gather for a Thanksgiving Day filled with feasting, faith, and football. Family and friends come from far and wide to gather around the table to give thanks and get “stuffed” at this annual meal. We dine on traditional dishes such as roasted turkey and gravy, stuffing, candied yams, corn, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.
The Thanksgiving tradition goes much deeper than food and sports, however! The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving because they were grateful to God for their successful harvest in the New World. During this feast, the Pilgrims demonstrated their tradition of thanking God for a bountiful feast. Many families take turns sharing what they are most thankful for during their Thanksgiving meal.
Explore the history and facts about Thanksgiving Day in this Thanksgiving timeline courtesy of Thanksgiving.com.
- 1621 – Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated a harvest feast (known as the first “Thanksgiving”) in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
- 1630 – Settlers observed the first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England on July 8, 1630.
- 1777 – While in route to Valley Forge, George Washington and his army stopped in freezing weather to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America.
- 1789 – President George Washington declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of “thanksgiving and prayer.”
- 1863 – President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an official federal holiday.
- 1876 – The first intercollegiate football championship was held on Thanksgiving Day
- 1924 – Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Day parade.
- 1934 –The first National Football League game held on Thanksgiving Day was between the Detroit Lions who faced the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit Stadium.
- 1941 – President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
- 1947 – President Harry Truman “pardoned” a turkey the day before it was scheduled to be served up as the main course at the White House Thanksgiving dinner. Modern presidents today have carried on the tradition.