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Martin Kelly

Official Thanksgiving Day

By October 3, 2010

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In Plymouth, Massachusetts, after the fall harvest of 1621, Governor William Bradford asked for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November a national holiday, Thanksgiving Day. The celebration was later changed by Congress to be held on the fourth Thursday of November. This article reveals fascinating Thanksgiving Myths and Realities.


October 3, 2009 at 6:26 pm
(1) Sandi says:

The Thanksgiving at Plymouth was actually a harvest festival. It was also two years after a thanksgiving service was held on December 4, 1619 at the Berkeley 500 in Virginia.

“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.”

The massacre in 1622 put an end to that.

It is also believed that the original Jamestown settlers held a service when they first arrived in Virginia in 1607, though whether at Jamestown or Newport is unknown. However, they never planned to commemorate it anually. Neither did the pilgrims.

October 7, 2010 at 10:02 am
(2) Randall says:

Sandi is correct. This Virginia First Thanksgiving is something of a cause celebre with the tour guides at Berkley Plantation, one of the famous James River plantations, which was also the setting for the composition of “Taps” by General Dan Butterfield when the Union army was encamped there in the early summer of 1862.

October 7, 2010 at 3:33 pm
(3) Terence says:

Sandi and Randall are quite correct in identifying the tradition which all the early settlers would have followed. The harvest festival is alive and well in thousands of parishes here in England and is celebrated on various Sundays throughout Autumn. The formalised date of Thanksgiving at the end of November, I would think, probably considers the very last possibility of any large harvest. I wish the holiday would be formalised here as the USA has made it such a splendid occasion for all people to give thanks and enjoy.

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