Today is Thanksgiving Day

Everybody deserves appreciation. Appreciation is very important in our lives. We need to appreciate our neighbors and we deserve appreciation too. Each year, the United States observe Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday in November. Normally, the following day which is Friday, is informally termed as Black Friday. Black Friday prepares us for the beginning of shopping, in anticipation of the Christmas season.

History of Thanksgiving Day

We can trace this day in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is still acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. Initially, thanksgiving was celebrated by individual colonies and states for the past two or three centuries. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November in 1863 amid the civil war. Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November is very popular in the United states and Brazil. Even though countries like Canada and Liberia have different dates for Thanksgiving Day, many other countries celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November.

Before 1621, in September 1620, a small ship named Mayflower left Plymouth, England. The Mayflower ship carried about 102 passengers (an assortment of religious separatists) seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of land ownership and prosperity in the new world. After an uncomfortable and treacherous crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. A month later, the ship crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the ‘pilgrims’ began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Most of the colonists remained on board the ship throughout the first brutal winter. They suffered from scurvy, exposure and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew survived. The remaining settlers moved ashore in March and were received astonishingly by an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Some days later, he came back with an American named Squanto. Squanto was from the tribe of Pawtuxet, he had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto rescued the pilgrims (weakened by malnutrition) by teaching them how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, avoid poisonous plants and catch fish in the rivers. Squanto again helped the settlers to forge an alliance with Wampanoag (a local tribe). This alliance is one of the tragic examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans which is believed to remain for more than 50 years.

The first thanksgiving is believed to have happened in November 1621 after the first successful corn harvest. Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and he invited a group of fledging colonies, native American allies, including the Wampanoag Chief Massasoit.

How to observe Thanksgiving Day

In many America households, the Thanksgiving celebration has begun to lose its original religious significance. It has now become a day of cooking and sharing bountiful meal with family and friends instead of the religious significance behind the celebration. Although sharing food with our neighbors form part of Thanksgiving Day, let us not focus on only the material aspects. There are so many ways to execute this day. In crisis like these, our presence in the lives of our brethren really matters. We can also celebrate this day by partaking in voluntary works.

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