What is Thanksgiving and how did it begin? The national holiday Thanksgiving is celebrated on various dates in different parts of the world. The early event commonly called "First Thanksgiving" by most Americans was celebrated by Pilgrims after their first harvest into the New World in October 1621, lasting 3 days.
Thanksgiving began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. At this time, the Plymouth Governor William Bradford invited Wampanoag people to join the pilgrims for the three-day festival of recreation and feasting for the bounty of the season. While there is no real record of the exact Thanksgiving menu, historians have suggested that many of their dishes were prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Being that there wasn't an oven the meal did not feature desserts.
The second Thanksgiving celebration was held in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that threatened the harvest and induced Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. In 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving for the United States. He encouraged Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country's war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
From the first celebrated Thanksgiving 402 years ago to now, people have kept the traditions alive. In both Canada and America, family and friends gather for a feast on Thanksgiving. Traditional American dinners include turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Parades and football games are often held on this holiday as well.