Once every year, American friends and family gather together to give thanks and celebrate Thanksgiving. We eat delicious foods like turkey, and biscuits, and pie, and everyone is usually feeling happy and grateful and loving.
Fun Fact #1: The very first Thanksgiving took place almost 400 years ago!
The story of Thanksgiving Day is also the story of America. You see, a long time ago, in England, the king got to decide which church his people would attend. Some people wanted to choose for themselves, and decided to leave England to find a place where they could pick their own church.
After traveling around for a while, these English families got on a boat called the Mayflower and sailed all the way from England to America. They were hoping to land in Virginia, but the weather was bad and they had to stop sailing, so they landed in Massachusetts, instead.
Fun Fact #2: 101 Pilgrims came from England to America on the Mayflower!
Massachusetts can be really, really cold in the winter, which is when the pilgrims landed there. Their trip took 66 days, so, besides being cold, they were also really tired and hungry. Very, very hungry.
Lucky for the Pilgrims, the Native Americans had already lived in America for a long time. They knew how to grow food and hunt and fish and shared their food with the starving Pilgrims. Without their help, the settlers would have died.
Fun Fact #3: Native Americans had lived in America for more than 12,000 years before the Pilgrims came!
The next spring, two very special Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to use fish to prepare their lands so they could grow crops like corn, pumpkins, beans, and peas. These Native Americans were called Abenaki and Tiasquantum and they were part of the Samoset tribe.
The Pilgrims and the Samoset tribe were friends and decided to join together to protect each other from other Native American tribes who might attack them.
Fun Fact #4: Native Americans used nicknames, too. Tiasquantum’s nickname was Squanto!
That November, the Pilgrims harvested the foods that the Native Americans had taught them to grow. They had so much food that they decided to celebrate their harvest and went out to hunt for deer to eat at their feast. The Native Americans heard the Pilgrims’ guns and got worried that the Pilgrims were going to break their deal and attack them, so they sent their men to find out what was going on.
When the Native Americans learned what the Pilgrims were doing, they joined in the hunt. To say thank you for all that the Native Americans had taught them, the Pilgrims invited them to their feast. All in all, there were 53 Pilgrims and 91 Native Americans at the First Thanksgiving! Can you imagine having 144 people at your house for Thanksgiving? Instead of turkey, biscuits, and pie, the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat.
Fun Fact #5: The celebration lasted for three whole days! The Pilgrims must have been stuffed!
The American people kept celebrating the fall harvest for another 200 years, until President Abraham Lincoln officially declared Thanksgiving Day in 1863. Now we celebrate Thanksgiving every year on the fourth Thursday in November.