History of Thanksgiving: The Story Behind the Feast


Thanksgiving is an American tradition that celebrates the harvest. It’s also a time for family, friends, and feasting together. The tradition of Thanks giving has its roots in ancient harvest festivals like the Roman Saturnalia, the Germanic pagan tradition of celebration through sacrifices, and the Puritan observance of thanksgiving in 1621.

Ever wondered how this holiday came to be? Curious about why we celebrate it when so many other cultures celebrate similar holidays around this time? Find out everything you need to know about history of Thanksgiving in this article!

History of Thanksgiving

Did you know the holiday known as Thanksgiving began as a harvest celebration? Or was this completely new information to you? If you are unsure of what Thanksgiving truly is, let us enlighten you!

Thanksgiving is not a single day. While some speculate that it may have started as a day of rest, the holiday doesn’t focus entirely on this. Instead, it was a time for the early settlers to be thankful for their many blessings.

Thanksgiving Celebrations

Many of the early Thanksgiving celebrations centered around bonfires. They were seen as “sacrifices” to light the way for the new year. In fact, that’s the word most commonly used in the early American documents to describe these fire festivals. Bonfires were used to burn crops, and live animals including oxen and hogs.

Interesting Facts about Thanksgiving

Surprise! Thanksgiving is not native to America! It was introduced to the United States by the Puritans who arrived in the 1620s and who observed a number of harvest festivals that were common at the time, including the fasting period of Lent and the biblical festival of Passover.

Thanksgiving is not a public holiday, meaning that it is not observed by most of the public. However, many communities have observed the holiday in honor of a shared tradition with their families. It’s been argued that one of the reasons that Thanksgiving is not celebrated by the public is because many people of immigrant descent do not recognize the holiday as a religious holiday and instead view it as a secular commemoration of the first harvest of fall crops.

Possible Origins of the Holiday

The Pilgrims In 1621, settlers landed at Plymouth. Although they arrived late in the season, they managed to establish a successful farm. The first Thanksgiving was held on September 29th, 1621, according to the Pilgrim Placebook. The English settlers had a religious ceremony to celebrate the harvest and gave thanks for the good harvest.

Shortly after the First Thanksgiving, the settlers got into a fight with the Wampanoag Indians. Most of the tribe were killed, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The survivors went on a long hunting trip to try and catch some food to eat. They ended up wandering around in the woods, about forty miles from their original place, until they were saved by another group of settlers.


Thanksgiving is a great American tradition that has been celebrated since the early 17th century. We often take it for granted, but the reason we celebrate this holiday on Thursday is a much older tradition than you may have thought. Thanksgiving originated from the Anglo-Saxon festival of Beltane, which is a celebration honoring the beginning of summer.

Beltane marked the end of winter and the beginning of a new year. The celebration was a great chance to get together with family and friends and celebrate the coming warm weather. Also known as May Day, it was a celebration full of joy and fertility. From the 16th century to the 19th century, May Day was celebrated on May 25 each year.

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