The History of Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the previous year's harvest. It's celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. It's also celebrated in several other countries around the world. Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious and cultural institutions though it's mostly celebrated today in a secular manner.


Thanksgivings origin's Days of Thanksgiving and Fasting date back to the English Reformation in 1536. The first Canadian Thanksgiving is often traced back to 1578 when  the explorer Martin Frobisher survived his long journey from England and held a formal ceremony in Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island, Nunavut today. The first Thanksgiving in the United States is traced back to the celebration in 1621 prompted by a good harvest by the Pilgrims in Plymouth in present day Massachusetts. Claims of earlier Thanksgiving feasts in the United States include Spanish explorers in Texas at San Elizario in 1598 and  now, Saint Augustine , Florida on September 8, 1965 and colonists in Charles City County Virginia in 1619.


The first official Thanksgiving in Canada occurred on April 15, 1872 celebrating the Prince of Wales' recovery from a serious illness. By the end of the 19th century, Thanksgiving Day was normally celebrated on November 6th. After World War I, to prevent it clashing with Armistice Day, in 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed Thanksgiving to be observed on its present date on the second Monday of October.


As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789 as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God. From the time of the founding fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most states by the beginning of the 19th century. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a Presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. O December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.






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