A Thanksgiving Turkey
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The Tradition of eating Turkey at Thanksgiving began in
1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving
Seeking a better life in the new world, the Pilgrims
sailed across the Atlantic Ocean aboard their ship the
Mayflower. They landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620.
The first year was a hard one for the Pilgrims, but the harvest
of 1621 was a bountiful one. The colonists decided to celebrate
with a feast that included about 50 Pilgrims and about 90 Indians
who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year.
Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" after wild
ducks, geese and turkey. The Pilgrims used the word turkey
to mean any sort of wild fowl, including wild turkeys.
However there is no evidence whether they actually ate turkey
at the first Thanksgiving feast, but it is most likely a probability.
The tradition of eating turkey for the Thanksgiving feast
has it's roots in the 'History Of Plymouth Plantation',
written by William Bradford some 22 years after the actual
His letter sent to England Edward Winslow, describes how the
governor sent "four men out fowling" and they returned with
turkeys, ducks and geese.
At the tradition of Thanksgiving grew throughout the years,
the turkey as a traditional food and as a symbol of
Thanksgiving grew with it.
History of Thanksgiving
The original Thanksgiving feast was not repeated the following
year. In 1623, Governor Bradford proclaimed another
day of Thanksgiving, again inviting their Indian friends.
It wasn't until June 29 of 1676 that another Day of Thanksgiving
was proclaimed. This feast most likely did not include
their Indian friends as it was a day of celebration for
not only the Pilgrim's good fortune, but also over a
recent victory over the Indians.
October of 1777 was the first time that all 13 colonies
joined in a Thanksgiving celebration.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national
holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday in
In 1941, it was officially changed to the fourth Thursday
in November. This was set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt
in 1939 and approved by Congress in 1941.