how thanksgiving day came into being
in 1620, a small sailboat named the mayflower left england for the new world. the mayflower headed for the jamestown colony on the warm shore of virginia. its one hundred passengers were the pilgrims. they were looking for a place where they could worship god in their own way.
because of strong winds and severe storms, the mayflower lost its course. the brave group of colonists finally had to land at plymouth on the rocky coast of massachusetts in december 1620. it was the middle of the stern northern winter. terrible months of starvation, disease, and death were ahead of them. only the strongest of the pilgrims survived that winter. many women gave their own pitiful rations to their children and died for lack of food for themselves. the governor of the plymouth colony, john carver, died in april 1621. in his place, the pilgrims elected william bradford.
conditions began to improve in the spring of 1621. there were wild vegetables. there were berries and fruit. fish and game were plentiful. therefore, they were able to get enough fresh meat despite their lack of skill or experience in hunting and fishing. the colonists' health improved with the warm weather and their better diet.
in the fall, they looked back over the past year. they were both regretful and thankful. only fifty of the original one hundred passengers remained. the price in human lives and tragedy had been great. on the other hand, they saw new hope for the future. a splendid harvest was behind them. they were ready for the second winter with confidence. they had eleven crude houses for protection against the severe winter. seven were for families, and four were for communal use. best of all, they had established a treaty of friendship with their indian neighbours under chief massasoit in the summer. the woods and forests became safe. when the mayflower returned to england that summer, there were no colonists aboard.
at the end of their first year in their new home, the pilgrims wanted to celebrate with a real holiday. governor bradford decided on december 13, 1621 as the day for giving thanks to god.
the colonists fired a cannon as a salute at dawn on that first thanksgiving day, afterwards they moved to the meeting house in a procession. this house took the place of a church for them. there they offered humble thanks to god. after the religious ceremony, a great feast and three days of celebration began. massasoit and his indian warriors were guests.
the hunters came back with wild turkeys, geese, and ducks. the indians brought deer meat. in addition, there were fish, clams, and oysters. the pilgrim housewives probably cooked some of their dried strawberries or cherries. however, there was no sugar. therefore, they were unable to prepare english jam or jelly. the indians contributed many kinds of vegetables, especially pumpkins. today pumpkins are both food and decoration for almost every thanksgiving table.
during the three days of celebration, the small group of women who worked very hard here were only a few young girls and a small number of children to help them. this little group provided food for the three-day feast for one hundred and forty people, including the indian guests.
in the meantime, the men took part in various contests and games. the indians competed with their bows and arrows. both red men and white men competed in sports. the pilgrim leaders usually considered games and sports as a waste of time. of course, on this holiday their discipline was not so strict. however, there were constant prayers during the three days.
on the whole, it was a wonderful holiday for the pilgrims after their winter of starvation and tragedy. however, they paid for this luxury during the following winter. there was very little food for anyone. they did not have a thanksgiving feast the next fall. the harvest was too small for that. but, in spite of everything, they never had any regrets about their first holiday.
in the following decades, thanksgiving days were frequently held, sometimes twice a year, sometimes every other year, depending on the circumstances. thanksgiving lost some of its new england character during the revolutionary war. the continental congress recommended eight days of thanksgiving for the continental army on thursday, december 18, 1777 and again at valley forge on may 7,1778. washington became the first president of the united states in april 1789. just before the adjournment(休会) of congress in september that year, president washington issued a proclamation for a thanksgiving day on november 26. he announced a second thanksgiving day six years later. after that, there were no thanksgiving days until 1812. president james madison announced a thanksgiving day at the end of the war of 1812.
the history of thanksgiving as a national holiday is largely the responsibility of mrs. sarah j. hale. mrs. hale moved from boston to philadelphia in 1830. then she realized for the first time that thanksgiving was not celebrated at all in many states. in agreement with mrs. hale to her constant suggestions, president abraham lincoln announced the first national thanksgiving day proclamation on october 3, 1863. at that time, the country was in the middle of bitter civil war. lincoln appointed the last thursday in november as thanksgiving day. each president, since abraham lincoln, has proclaimed a thanksgiving day for the nation as a whole.
thanksgiving has hardly changed at all since 1621 in its intention and manner of celebration. churches of all denominations are open on this day to give thanks for god's generosity. thanksgiving is a family holiday. all over the country, husbands and wives， grandchildren, and great-grandchildren travel from city to town, from town to village, or from village to farm to spend the day at their old home. many people would speak to their parents or grandparents by long distance telephone call.
thanksgiving dinner is practically the same in every aspect all over the country. the table is always loaded with delicious food of many different kinds. naturally, the main course is the turkey. pumpkin pie is often served in remembrance of the indians' gift to the first settlers. in most homes, there are traditional games after dinner.
thanksgiving is a happy celebration. it is a family day and a chance to renew friendships. above all, thanksgiving day is a time for remembrance and for giving thanks.
1. for years before 1863, there was no set thanksgiving day. sometimes one year could have thanksgiving as many as twice.
2. the original intention of thanksgiving day was to celebrate the first splendid harvest the pilgrims had after a winter of starvation and tragedy.
3. in 1863, thanksgiving day was made a national holiday by president abraham lincoln due to the efforts of mrs. sarah j. hale.
4. the first thanksgiving consumed all the food the colonists had harvested and reserved, therefore, they suffered starvation in the following winter.
5. in 1620, one hundred pilgrims in a small sailboat left england sailing for plymouth looking for religious freedom.
6. the pilgrims wouldn't have survived the tragedy without indians' help.
7. in 1621, the pilgrims were on good terms with local indians.
8.thanksgiving dinner is almost the same throughout america with typical food like_______________.
9. people like to spend thanksgiving day at their old home because thanksgiving day is_________.
10. the first time president washington announced a thanksgiving day was in______.