The History of Thanksgiving Dinner

Maya Cabrera, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is one of the most important American holidays today. Originated in 1621 when the Mayflower left England in September 1620, it landed in Cape Cod where the colonists began to settle. The Pilgrims had Thanksgiving as a way to celebrate their first harvest. The 50 remaining colonists and roughly 90 Wampanoag Tribesmen attended the first Thanksgiving. Unlike today, instead of feasting for one day they feasted for three full days, and turkey was not on the menu! 

The traditional Thanksgiving meal consisted of waterfowl, venison, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash. Whereas today we typically eat stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, yams, corn, pumpkin pie and of course turkey. Why did we start the tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving? According to, ¨[Historians wrote of how] the colonists had hunted wild turkeys during the autumn of 1621 and since turkey is a uniquely American (and scrumptious) bird, it gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice for Americans after Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863¨.

Thanksgiving is always on a thursday and this is not a coincidence there is a real reason as to why this day. Stated in , ¨Thursday seems to have evolved first as tradition, then as a matter of national law¨. For some time in 1668, November 25 was considered the “legal” annual day of Thanksgiving. This only lasted for a couple of years before Thursday became tradition in order to distance the event from the Sabbath day among the Puritan colonists. Thursday was also a day for lectures in New England, with ministers giving a religious talk each Thursday afternoon. Since the 1700’s, Thursday has been the day we celebrate this holiday. Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 designated the national day of Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday of November. Later it was changed to the fourth Thursday in November.