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The History of Thanksgiving

Did you know that the first Thanksgiving in America wasn’t really a celebration of thanks? Did you further know that it was a three day celebration that was attended by nearly twice as many Native Americans as Pilgrims? It is just a few of the generally unknown tidbits about the history of Thanksgiving.

The 1621 feast we generally view as the first Thanksgiving was really a celebration after the harvest. It was in 1623, after a drought, that Governor Bradford made it a civil holiday. The First National Proclamation of a Thanksgiving Day was made by the Continental Congress in 1777, but it wasn’t until President Abe Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day in 1863 that it became a national holiday.

Politics played a big role in the holiday from 1939 to 1941, when Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November. The original last Thursday date was called “Republican Thanksgiving” and the earlier Thursday “Democrat Thanksgiving”. Some even called it “Franksgiving”.

Discussions continued and it was finally decided that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November each year, when it is celebrated to this day.

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