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Thanksgiving Day origin and History

Updated on October 16, 2015

Introduction to Thanksgiving Day

With Thanksgiving Day coming in less than 8 weeks, this is the time to sit and reflect the origin of this great day. Thanksgiving day means a lot to us and it will remain so in this 2015 Thanksgiving day.

I know the idea of Thanksgiving Day brings memories of delicious turkey and other dishes and recipes we have enjoyed previously and we look forward to each Thanksgiving day with much anticipation.

During Thanksgiving Day special food is prepared for families and friend to eat together. We enjoy great turkey recipes that make us all remember every Thanksgiving Day and we yearn and hope to live to the next one.

To enjoy great Thanksgiving Day dishes and treats, but least of all we should not forget about the history and origin of Thanksgiving Day and this is what this hub is all about, to remind you of Thanksgiving Day, history and origin.

This years Thanksgiving Day will fall on the 26th of November 2015; and it always on a Thursday and hence do not forget that the following day will be Black Friday. Plan to save on the Christmas shopping.

2015 Thanksgiving Day for Different Countries

Thanksgiving falls on different dates in the four countries that formally celebrate this great family reunion day. Despite the fact that Thanksgiving is celebrate on different dates, the meaning of the day remains the same.

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day first. They celebrate Thanksgiving Day in October, the same day as Columbus Day is celebrated in the US and other continental America countries both in South and North America. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday of October and this year’s (2015), Thanksgiving Day was on the 12th of October 2015. This means the Canadians have already celebrated their Thanksgiving Day.

The second nation to celebrate Thanksgiving Day is Liberia; Liberia celebrate Thanksgiving day on the first Thursday every November and this year’s (2015), Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated on the 5th of November 2015.

The USA is the third nation to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and it is celebrated on the 4th Thursday every November. Also celebrating Thanksgiving Day on fourth Thursday of every November is Leiden, a city in South Holland in the Netherlands. Leiden is the only none English Speaking country that formally celebrates Thanksgiving Day. This year’s Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated on 26th of November, 2015 by both USA and Leiden.

Norfolk Island, celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the last Wednesday every November. This year, Norfolk Island will celebrate their Thanksgiving Day on the 25th of November 2015.

Samuel Champlain
Samuel Champlain
Thanksgiving Day in the US in 1916
Thanksgiving Day in the US in 1916
The Pieterskerk
The Pieterskerk

History and origin of Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day in Canada

As much as Thanksgiving is perceived to be more of an American holiday, its origin is found in many pagan traditions and holidays that surrounds winter period. These pagan rituals and ceremonies vary from place to place

In our modern world, Thanksgiving still has its winter tag with Canada for example observing Thanksgiving Day early because winter in Canada starts early and Thanksgiving originally was a harvest festival.

However, we cannot talk about Thanksgiving in Canada without mentioning Sir Martin Frobisher, an English Sailor born in 1535 at Yorkshire in the UK. Frobisher made three unsuccessful search of the northern passage starting in 1576. Upon his return he had a celebration to thank for safe return in Newfoundland in the year 1578. Based on Frobisher Thanksgiving Day’s origin, the celebration was for safe return but not harvest celebration. However, others have written that Canada Thanksgiving Day may have its origin from Samuel Champlain; the founder of Quebec in Canada. Samuel was born in France, Saintonge in 1567. He introduced Thanksgiving Day as a celebration of harvest and it said that during Thanksgiving Day he encouraged sharing of food with native population in the early days of French occupation in Canada. As Canada grew, with many people coming from different parts of the World, so did the harvest celebration; Thanksgiving Day grew.

In Canada Thanksgiving day was never fixed and even some states had different days for celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Officially, the first Thanksgiving Day in Canada was on 15th of April 1872 for a celebration to mark George V, then the Prince of Wales recovery from illness. Thanksgiving Day would later be celebrated on 6th of November but after 1st World War ended in 1918; Thanksgiving Day fell in the same week with Armistice Day and parliament proposed the current Thanksgiving Day of second Monday in November

Thanksgiving Day in Liberia

Liberia was formed in 1820 by Freed Slaves from USA through effort of American Colonization Society (ACS). These freed slaves carried with them some cultural beliefs from America including Thanksgiving Day traditions. However, their Thanksgiving Day celebration is on the first Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving Day in USA

In the United States, Thanksgiving was first celebrated by Spanish Explorers dating back in 1565 as a harvest celebration. Some trace the first Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth (Massachusetts) in 1621 as a celebration for harvest and settlement. With the help of the Wampanoag; Native Americans who assisted the visiting European by teaching them how to fish as well as provided them with seeds. Despite these early efforts to establish Thanksgiving Day in US, it remained sporadic event until 17th Century. There also have been arguments as to whether Thanksgiving Day started in Plymouth or Virginia, with some arguing that Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in Virginia in 1607 and was later put in the Virginia charter in 1619.

It was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of USA and a president who witnessed the American Civil War who proposed and managed to have a Thanksgiving Day celebrated in 1863 as a way of bringing together the warring South and North states. From then, the 4th Thursday of every November became Thanksgiving Day. It was Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the US who on 26th of December 1941 signed the bill making Thanksgiving Day a public holiday to be celebrated every 4th Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving Day in Leiden

For ten year from 1609, many would be immigrants to the US had resided in Leiden and recorded their lives including births, weddings and burials at Pieterskerk; a late-Gothic church dedicated to Saint Peter. The residents of Leiden celebrates Thanksgiving as a commemoration of hospitality accorded to the immigrants by the Leiden City residents

Thanksgiving Day in Norfolk Islands

The Norfolk Island has over the years accommodated American fishermen on their whaling trips and this is the way they started celebrating Thanksgiving Day. However, they celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of November.

Despite these countries listed above, other countries have had harvest celebration.


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