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Congressional Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, set by Congress, December 18, 1777

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday in the United States and Canada that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States and second Monday of October in Canada. The day is mainly used to justify the genocide against the Native Americans and the colonization of their lands by the English settlers. It is traditionally a day set aside to give thanks to the Lord for His blessings, however, Native Americans are seen only as props in this situation and aren't given credit where it is due. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American and Canadian holiday

In 1789 President George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving Day as the last Thursday in November. In 1941, the United States Congress passed a resolution decreeing that Thanksgiving should fall on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving Day proclamations have traditionally been given by the Presidents of the United States of America [1]


The earliest Thanksgivings were celebrated by settlers from England known as the Pilgrims. The pilgrims were puritans, a group of Chrisitans who believed in living a simple and therefore pure life. In England they were discontent with how their King James I of England and Ireland/ James VI of Scotland and his court often got into parties which resulted in everyone going into a druken stupor. They often condemned the King but left in 1610 as they grew unpopular in England. They moved to the Netherlands but as they were discontent with Dutch culture, they left in 1620 for the Americas. They arrived in modern-day Massachusetts. who were keenly aware that their blessings -- like their rights -- came from God. In times of hardship unimaginable to us today, they took time to give thanks to their Creator.the event is commemorated by a national holiday in November with its origins in Virginia at Berkeley Plantation on December 4, 1619. The first Thanksgiving was a religious celebration -- an occasion to thank God -- that featured only a modest meal. It wasn't until two years later, in 1621, that Thanksgiving was expanded to include a banquet by the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. Thanksgiving was the first uniquely American holiday.


In September 1789, Congress asked President George Washington to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.” Washington complied. [2]

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. [3]


During the very heart of the American Civil War, in October 1863, President Abraham Lincoln built on President Washington's initiative and created an annual day of Thanksgiving.

Like Washington, Lincoln was determined to draw a direct tie between America and the Heavenly Creator from whom Americans draw their rights.

Lincoln acknowledged that the nation was "in the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity." But he focused instead on the nation's blessings, urging his fellow Americans to remember that:

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. Let Us Be Thankful For a Land That Will For Such Religion Stand. [4]

Throughout early American history, when they suffered from drought, famine or war, Americans paused, not to seek vengeance or to question their faith, but to give thanks to God for the blessings they still had. Not only have many Americans forgotten or never learned the historic origins of our Thanksgiving -- to pause and give thanks to God for our abundance -- but radical secularists are intent on removing God and faith from our national life altogether. Many of the entertainment and political elite seem to be threatened by religious faith.


Thanksgiving in the United States is possibly the premier U.S. family celebration, typically celebrated at home and marked with a substantial feast. As the anchor of what is for many a four-day holiday weekend, Thanksgiving provides an occasion for family reunions, marks the beginning of the “holiday season” that continues through Christmas and New Year’s Day and, as its name suggests, affords Americans a shared opportunity to express their gratitude for plentiful food and general abundance.

Many cultures traditionally have marked a plentiful harvest with a celebration of thanks. Long before the first English settlers reached North America, Western Europeans observed “Harvest Home” festivals and the British an August 1 Lammas ("Loaf Mass") Day, celebrating the wheat harvest.

However the American Thanksgiving holiday, a National Day of Thanksgiving, is unique in all the world. It was first celebrated in Virginia at Berkeley Plantation, where English colonists first held a Thanksgiving celebration on December 4, 1619, one year and 17 days prior to the landing of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. This first Thanksgiving occurred when Captain John Woodlief led the newly arrived English colonists to a grassy slope along the James River and instructed them to drop to their knees and pray in thanks to God for a safe arrival to the New World. On this day, Dec. 4, 1619, these 38 men from Berkeley Parish in England were given the instructions:

"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God." [1]

The Pilgrims had arrived in 1620, crossing the Atlantic Ocean to separate themselves from the official Church of England and practice freely their form of Puritanism. Arriving at Plymouth Colony—part of today’s Massachusetts—too late to grow many crops, and lacking fresh food, the Pilgrims suffered terribly during the winter of 1620–1621. Half the colony died from disease. The following spring, local Wampanoag Indians taught the colonists how to grow corn (maize) and other local crops unfamiliar to the Pilgrims, and also helped the newcomers master hunting and fishing.

Because they harvested bountiful crops of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins, the colonists had much to be thankful for in the fall of 1621. English Puritans had traditionally designated special days of thanksgiving to express gratitude for God’s blessings. In the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony held their first Thanksgiving. They invited their Wampanoag benefactors who arrived with deer to roast with the turkeys and other wild game offered by the colonists. The colonists had learned how to cook cranberries and different kinds of corn and squash dishes from the Indians.

Many of the original colonists continued to celebrate days of thanksgiving for a bountiful autumn harvest and the blessings of freedom God had bestowed on them. President George Washington proclaimed a Day of National Thanksgiving in 1789, to celebrate the ratification of the United States Constitution. Gradually, a number of states began to celebrate an annual Thanksgiving. In 1863,during the long and bloody civil war, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November an annual National Day of Thanksgiving, to give thanks to God for the blessings God had bestowed upon the United States.

Thanksgiving grace - 1942.jpg

Thanksgiving is a time for prayer, tradition and sharing. Even if they live far away, family members often gather for family reunions. As a result, Thanksgiving marks the busiest domestic air travel period of the year. Many Americans enjoy a local Thanksgiving parade, or the annual Macy’s department store parade, televised live from New York City. Others watch televised American football, while all give thanks together to God for their food, shelter and other good things. Many volunteer their time to help civic groups, churches, and charitable organizations offer traditional meals to those in need.

Although the fourth Thursday of November falls on a different date every year, the president is expected to proclaim that date as the official celebration.

The Pilgrims’ triumph over starvation and disease at Plymouth Colony can be traced to something more than the charitable gestures of a few local Indians. Rather, it was their faith in Divine Providence and the blessings of God. It also involves their courageous decision to replace a failed, socialistic agricultural system with one formed by the free-market principle of private ownership of property -- a century and a half before Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations.[5]

Symbols of Thanksgiving

Freedom From Want, aka The Thanksgiving Dinner, by Norman Rockwell
  • Turkey, corn (maize), pumpkins, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce are symbols that represent the first Thanksgiving. These symbols often are depicted on holiday decorations and greeting cards. Corn in particular is held to represent the survival of the Pilgrim colonies. Used as a table or door decoration, corn or maize represents the harvest and the fall season.
  • Sweet-sour cranberry sauce, or cranberry jelly, was on the first Thanksgiving table and is still served today. The cranberry is a small, sour berry. It grows in bogs, or muddy areas, in Massachusetts and other New England states. It is indigenous to North America. The Indians used the fruit to treat infections and the juice to dye their rugs and blankets. They taught the colonists how to cook the berries with sweetener and water to make a sauce. The Indians called it "ibimi," which means "bitter berry." The Pilgrims preferred "crane-berry" because the flowers of the berry bent the stalk over, reminding them of the long-necked crane. The berries are still grown in New England.
  • In 1988, a Thanksgiving night ceremony of a different kind took place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Among the more than four thousand people gathered there were Native Americans representing tribes from all over the country and descendants of the later immigrants. The ceremony acknowledged publicly the Native Americans role in the first American Thanksgiving, a feast held to thank the Indians for sharing the knowledge and skills without which the first Pilgrims would not have survived.


Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October.

See also


  2. President Washington Proclaims America’s Duty to ‘Obey’ God and ‘Be Grateful for His Benefits’ CNSNews, November 27, 2008
  3. Library of Congress - George Washington Papers
  4. Library of Congress - Abraham Lincoln Papers
  5. The Reality of Thanksgiving, by Mike Franc, Human Events, 11/16/2007.

External links