On the fourth Thursday in November, in
houses around the United States, families get together for a feast, or a large
meal. Almost all families eat turkey and cranberry sauce for this meal, and
have pumpkin pie for dessert. This feast is part of a very special day, the
holiday of Thanksgiving.
In 1620 the Pilgrims made a difficult
trip across the ocean from England. They landed in what is now Massachusetts.
In England the Pilgrims had not been allowed to freely practice their religion.
So they went to the New World in search of religious freedom.
The Pilgrims' first winter was very
hard. Almost half the group died of cold, hunger, and disease. But the Indians
of Massachusetts taught the Pilgrims to plant corn, to hunt, and to fish. When
the next fall came, the Pilgrims had plenty of food. They were thankful and had
a feast to give thanks. They invited the Indians to join them. This was the
Thanksgiving became a national holiday
many years later because of a woman named Sarah Hale. For forty years Sarah
Hale wrote to each president and asked for a holiday of Thanksgiving. At last
she was successful. In 1863 President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a holiday.
How much is Thanksgiving today like the
Pilgrims' Thanksgiving? In many ways they are different. For example,
historians think that the Pilgrims ate deer, not turkey. The idea of
Thanksgiving, though, is very much the same: Thanksgiving is a day on which we
celebrate and give thanks.