by: Charlotte Purkiss
Thanksgiving celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. In the United States, it always takes place on the fourth Thursday of November; this year Thanksgiving is on Thursday, November 25th.
It is generally believed that Thanksgiving is based on a 1621 harvest feast shared with the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. The myth of the Thanksgiving story is that the friendly Native People welcomed the Pilgrims into America, taught them how to survive, had dinner with them, but then the Native Peoples disappeared in order to hand America over to the Pilgrims. However, what really happened was that when the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Wampanoag tribes first encountered each other, the Pilgrims stole winter supplies from the tribe and gave them diseases. The "first Thanksgiving '' was followed by deadly disputes between the colonizers and Native people including the Wampanoags. The colonizers seized Native land and imprisoned, enslaved and executed native people.
In 1789, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Public Address by calling upon Americans to express their gratitude for the conclusion of the country's War. In 1817, New York was the first of many states to officially take on an annual Thanksgiving holiday; later in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday to "heal the wounds of the nation." Thanksgiving was celebrated on the final Thursday in November every year until 1939 when Franklin D Roosevelt changed the holiday, attempting to help retail sales during the Great Depression. Finally in 1941, he reluctantly signed the bill that would make Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
Nearly 90% of Americans today eat turkey on Thanksgiving; other traditional foods consist of stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Parades are very popular as well but the most popular one is New York City's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been presented by Macy's since 1924. Along it's 2.5 mile route, it attracts around 2 to 3 million spectators.