Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. Thanksgiving was historically a religious observation to give thanks to God.
October 3, 1789, George Washington made the first Thanksgiving Day, designated by the national government of the United States of America. In part this proclamation read 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
It became an official national holiday on October 3, 1863, by a Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln. Part of his proclamation said I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
The event that we commonly call the first Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, squash, beetroot and turkey.
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