The very first Thanksgiving was not held in 1621, but in 1619. It was held in Berkeley Hundred, Virginia, and was proclaimed by Charter with these words:
"We ordaine that the day of our ship's arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."
Thirty-six pilgrims under the leadership of Captain John Woodleaf held the first Thanksgiving on December 4, 1619. The holy day (holiday) was not a meal, but a prayer service.
In the spring of 1621, Pilgrims from the Mayflower established their first settlement called Plimoth, which is located south of Boston, Massachusetts. Thanks to the assistance of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, the Plimoth settlers reaped a bountiful harvest in the Autumn of 1621, and celebrated with a three-day festive meal to thank the local Indians and God Almighty.
At that meal they dined on wild turkey and venison, and dishes made from corn and pumpkins. There was no wheat in the New World, so they didn't have today's pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving was made an official national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War in 1863. He designated the day for:
"Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
You can read the full history and view graphics for these events at:
To see 250 Thanksgiving Pictures and Images, go here:
Based on the American model, Thanksgiving is also celebrated by Canada. The Canadian Thanksgiving is in October.