How Traditional Thanksgiving Has Evolved Over the Years

If you’re looking for a quintessentially American holiday it has to be Thanksgiving. If you’re wondering how it became the parade-marching, gut-stuffing occasion that it’s become today, check out the following timeline. 

  • 1541 Spanish Explorers Hold a Feast: The very first thanksgiving was observed by a Spanish explorer named Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. It was a feast of prayer and thanksgiving.
  • 1598 Spanish Feast Number Two: This is another celebration that claims to be the first thanksgiving. It was to mark the end of an incredible journey across the Chihuahua Desert to the Rio Grande undertaken by 500 soldiers, women, and children.
  • 1607 Native Americans and Colonists Held a Feast in Maine: English colonists at Fort St George gathered for a harvest feast and prayer meeting together with the Abenaki Indians of Maine.
  • 1621 The Plymouth Feast: According to American tradition, this is when Thanksgiving began. Colonists held a three-day party together with native Wampanoag Indians.
  • 1775 Boston Patriots Called for a Day of Public Thanksgiving: An anti-British proclamation was published by a group of Boston patriots. The day was held across Massachusetts Colony. 
  • 1773 13 Colonies Celebrate Thanksgiving Together: This celebration was held to mark the victory of American Continental forces over the British in the Battle of Saratoga.
  • 1789 George Washington Calls for Day of Thanksgiving: When he was the first President of the United States, Washington called for a national day of thanksgiving and prayer in gratitude for the end of the Revolutionary War. 
  • 1846 Sarah Josepha Hale Lobbies to Make it a National Holiday: It was the beginning of a 17-year letter-writing campaign calling on American presidents to make Thanksgiving official. 
  • 1863 Lincoln Makes the Thanksgiving Holiday Official: He proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day. 
  • 1876 First Thanksgiving Football Game: It was played between Princeton and Yale and the tradition quickly caught on. 
  • 1924 First Macy’s Parade: It was six miles long and featured live camels and elephants from Central Park Zoo. 
  • 1939 Franklin D Roosevelt Changed the Date to One Week Earlier: By 1941, Congress had voted to move it back again. 
  • 1963 First Turkey Pardon: John F Kennedy spared the life of a 55-pound turkey. 
  • 1989 Turkey Pardoning Becomes a Tradition: President George W Bush began the annual White House tradition of officially pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey.

Regardless of its history, the modern-day Thanksgiving celebration is all about being grateful. Keeping a gratitude journal will help you focus on the people who are most important to you. You’ll find some useful tips on keeping a gratitude journal on All Things Hair. 

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