Thanksgiving Day: History, Meaning, and Significance

Thanksgiving Day is the time of year when we remember and express our gratitude to the loved ones who enrich our lives. Everyone waits all year to be around the table with family and friends to dig into the turkey and enjoy sweet delicacies. It’s the time when we share creative messages and wishes with the ones who mean the most to us. But how many of us are really familiar with the history and significance of Thanksgiving? Picboot is here to help. We have answers for all your whys and hows regarding Thanksgiving.

When Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. It is marked as a federal holiday in the US. It is also called "American Thanksgiving" to distinguish it from the Canadian holiday of the same name, which falls on the second Monday of October. Thanksgiving is not just restricted to the North American continent but is also celebrated in other countries like Germany, Brazil, Japan, Liberia, etc. in different forms around the same time.

How Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Despite having a religious significance, Thanksgiving has turned out to be more of a secular holiday now. This is the day when most Americans enjoy a get-together and a delicious feast with their friends and families. Everyone expresses their thanks through a mouthwatering turkey, pumpkin pie, and some good wine. Some of the celebrations also involve family members writing lists of the things they are thankful for and then reading them loudly to share their happiness and blessings. As the name suggests, "Thanksgiving," the holiday holds a deep sense of gratitude.

What Food Items do We Eat at Thanksgiving Dinner?

A Thanksgiving meal can’t just go without a turkey. Turkey is now synonymous with Thanksgiving. Other than that, traditional Thanksgiving dinners include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, and apple pie.

When was the "First Thanksgiving" Celebrated?

Although the exact date of the "First Thanksgiving" is quite debatable, its origins can be traced back to 1621, when the Plymouth colonists, known as pilgrims, and the Native American tribe (Wampanoag) celebrated after their first harvest. The Pilgrims sat together with Native Americans to share a meal and thank them for helping with a successful first harvest. The autumn harvest festival continued for three days in Plymouth.

The gathering included 90 Native Americans and around 50 pilgrims who came on the Mayflower ship. The feast was cooked by the four adult Pilgrim women, along with their young daughters and other servants. The Pilgrims celebrated the second Thanksgiving just two years later, in 1623, to mark the end of a long drought that had affected the year's harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to go on a religious fast. After this Thanksgiving, fasting and the annual Thanksgiving celebration became common practices in other New England settlements as well.

A Change in the Date

After its origin, Thanksgiving became popular and was celebrated among individual colonies and states for more than two centuries. It became a national thing in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held on the final Thursday of November. It was celebrated on the last Thursday of November for another 76 years.

As per Wikipedia, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to increase retail sales during the Great Depression. This decision was criticized by the opposition, and many protests took place. The critics renamed Thanksgiving "Franksgiving" in the name of the president to mock this revolutionary decision. In 1941, the President was finally successful in signing the bill to move Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November. Since then, Thanksgiving has been celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

The Dark History

Few people believe that the picture of Thanksgiving's history is not as rosy as it has been painted over the years. As per the Smithsonian, when Europeans began coming to the New World (now known as the United States) about four years before the Mayflower ship arrived, they carried foreign illnesses that killed Native Americans at exceedingly high rates. It made it easier for pilgrims to take over these lands. Another saying is that the pilgrims came to the area to kidnap and sell Native Americans into slavery.

"Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture," says the United American Indians of New England.

When was it Recognized as a National Holiday?

New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday in 1817. Each state celebrated Thanksgiving on a different day. Interestingly, South America remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition.

The Black Friday

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is also considered a traditional holiday for most of the employees, making it a fun-long weekend. You must have seen the big, bold Black Friday graphics for clearance sales and discounts, that is what Black Friday is known for. It marks the start of the holiday shopping season, with special deals and deep discounts on nearly all products throughout the stores.

Picboot has a collection of free Thanksgiving graphics, design templates, and messages that can be simply edited as per your requirements. The Thanksgiving graphics and messages can easily be shared on WhatsApp messages and also work well as a caption for your social media posts.

Share the happiness and cherish the festival of gratitude with your loved ones.

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