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A Short History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. The first Thanksgiving however, was celebrated by the Pilgrims who had landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 in the autumn of 1621. It occurred when the Wampanoag Indians shared their autumn harvest feast. The Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock had their numbers nearly cut in half after the first winter in frigid Massachusetts. We can only imagine their delight to have survived and then be a part of a ancient ritual that had been celebrated by the native peoples of North America for centuries. The Wampanoag Indians had always given thanks to the Creator usually on a daily basis, but always at large ceremonies for successful harvests in the fall of the year. They hoped for a good growing season in early spring and for good fortune such as the birth of healthy children. Giving thanks was and still is the reason for Thanksgiving Day. In 1621, that first Thanksgiving celebration lasted for 3 days. 

After that first Thanksgiving in 1621, the Thanksgiving feast was held sporadically throughout the colonies and it wasn't until October of 1777 that all 13 colonies celebrated the day ofThanksgiving.The very first national day ofThanksgiving was held in 1789 when President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26th "a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer" to especially give the people the opportunity to give praise, in their own way, for the opportunity to form a new nation. Again, from 1789 until 1863, Thanksgiving was not celebrated annually. Lincoln's involvement changed that. In 1939, after the beginning of the second world war in Europe and during the Great Depression, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with pressure from retailers, moved Thanksgiving up a week to increase the shopping days before Christmas. Today, it seems that Thanksgiving Day is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season though the meaning has not been lost on most of our citizens, that it is a special day to give thanks for all our blessings.

We at Davis & Davis hope all of you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with your family and friends and join with you in hoping that you have a wonderful Christmas holiday and blessed new year.

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Davis & Davis Attorneys at Law

Davis & Davis Attorneys At Law