Teacher Guide To Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is traditionally an American holiday. It is usually a time when family or loved ones get together, eat huge amounts of food, and celebrate the things they are thankful for. Most of the time there is a parade to watch and a football game too. Many people decorate their houses with items that are reminiscent of the first Thanksgiving. In many schools, children get to reenact Thanksgiving by dressing as the Pilgrims and the Indians and having a meal that they share. Usually the kids make costumes for this giant feast. This kind of thing is really important to keep as a tradition for America and American families, however there are a few things about Thanksgiving that are more of a myth then the truth. Looking at this will give an interesting view of what really happened and make Thanksgiving all that much more special.
It will surprise you to find out that the celebration that went on between the Wampanoag Indian and the Pilgrims that we call Thanksgiving did not actually happen at the same time. When the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, that first winter, 46 of the original 102 died. During the next year they thrived and had a great harvest. At this time they did decided to celebrate and invited at least 90 natives. One of them was the one you all know as Squanto. He was very helpful to the Pilgrim. He taught them a lot about the land, how to fish, and how to plant. He was also the same Squanto who figured out a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and their chief, Massasoit. This feast the Pilgrims had with the Indians did include fowl, which is a type of bird, but it is not for sure they actually had turkey. They did have venison, pumpkin, and corn, along with the vegetables from their crops. However, there was no mention of the word Thanksgiving this year of 1622. In fact this idea of having a feast was not knew to the Pilgrims. Throughout history cultures have held celebrations in thanks for what they have. In Britain the Pilgrims had most likely celebrated what was called the British Harvest Home tradition.
Not to worry though, the next year, 1623, the word Thanksgiving was finally used as a national day of Thanksgiving. The pilgrims had suffered a terrible drought in May of 1623 through June of 1623. At some point in July they decided to have a day of prayer and fasting. The very next day it rained, and also, that same day a group of Norwegian settlers arrived bringing supplies. Governor Bradford claimed that day to be a national day of Thanksgiving.
Yet, this was not a yearly occurrence. The next time we hear of Thanksgiving was not until 1631. That was the day that a ship that had not been seen for days finally got into Boston harbor, Again Governor Bradford ordered a day of Prayer and thanksgiving.
So when did the tradition of Thanksgiving actually begin? The idea is up for debate, but in 1665 in Connecticut one of the first known celebrations remembering the 1621 feast of the Pilgrims did occur. That was the beginning of a yearly tradition celebrating our brave forefathers who settled this land.