Thanksgiving Day in America is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November. The history of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621. The Pilgrims had settled into the New World, and after a very hard first year they finally were seeing a success fall harvest. Homes for the Pilgrims were built and they were working to continue building settlements in their new land. They had even been able to live in peace with their Indian neighbors.
To celebrate their plentiful harvest season, Governor William Bradford, declared a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared with both the pilgrims and Indians. This first official Thanksgiving was celebrated with a harvest feast and it continued for three days.
The next Thanksgiving celebration was not held until 1623, after a severe drought that was relieved with a long, steady rain. Governor Bradford decided to proclaim another Thanksgiving Day with both the Pilgrims and Indians.
Not until October of 1777 did all thirteen colonies join in a Thanksgiving celebration. Instead of a harvest celebration, it was seen as a patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga.
In 1789, George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving. However not all the colonies supported the idea and it did not become an official holiday until President Lincoln made it so in 1863.
Most people believe that the credit for the national day of Thanksgiving should go to Sara Josepha Hale, a magazine editor who campaigned for 40 years to get the day celebrated as a national holiday. She used editorials and letter writing to try to persuade governors and presidents to support her cause. Although her obsession took many years to come to fruition, she was very pleased when President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as the Thanksgiving holiday.
After Lincoln, all other Presidents have supported the Thanksgiving holiday. In 1941, Thanksgiving was sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
Today Thanksgiving Day is seen as a time to offer thanks and celebrate with family gatherings and large holiday meals.