Thanksgiving: Then and Now
Thanksgiving is a holiday that began hundreds of years ago. It was a celebration of many different things. One of the most important reasons for the celebration was thankfulness that many of the Pilgrims survived the first year of their new lives in America. Today, however, Thanksgiving seems to have a very different meaning to people. Their main focus is not being thankful for the things they have, but wanting more.
In September of the year 1620, a group of 102 eager individuals stepped aboard the Mayflower to begin a chapter in their lives. There was much uncertainty that came with the choice to board the ship. The people who decided to make the journey to the New World were referred to as Pilgrims. The Pilgrims’ purpose for traveling to the New World was to be able to practice their religion however they chose. The Pilgrims lacked this freedom in their homeland because the king had the power to tell the people how they were supposed to practice religion (Thanksgiving).
The journey to America was long and uncomfortable for the passengers of the Mayflower. However, they finally reached the land that would become their new home only a few months after leaving England. Since it was winter when the Pilgrims dropped anchor in Plymouth, Massachusetts, many of the passengers decided to stay aboard the ship until spring. Winter proved to be very challenging for the Pilgrims. Many of them contracted illnesses and did not survive. In fact, only about half of the people who agreed to take the journey survived the first winter in Plymouth (Thanksgiving).
The Pilgrims worked hard to establish a new home in Plymouth. Local Indian tribes became loyal to the Pilgrims. One Indian in particular, Squanto, who knew English following being kidnapped and sent to England, helped the Pilgrims immensely (3b). Squanto taught the Pilgrims many vitals skills including cultivating corn, extracting maple sap, catching fish, and avoiding contact with poisonous plants. Thanks to Squanto’s help, the Pilgrims had a successful first harvest in November of 1621. The governor, William Bradford, presented the idea of having a feast to celebrate their success (Thanksgiving).
The Pilgrims invited the Indians to join their bountiful feast. The feast probably included foods such as deer and fruits and vegetables they had grown (First). The celebration lasted for three days. Throughout the three days, the Pilgrims not only celebrated their success, but thanked God for helping them through their hardships. Over the next approximately 300 years, the times and reasons for the Thanksgiving celebration varied. However, in 1941, Thanksgiving became an...