Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.
The Pilgrims sailed from England to North America to find religious freedom. Their ship, the Mayflower, landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts in late fall, 1620, just as winter was beginning.
The winter was very hard for the Pilgrims. They didn't have enough to eat and many of them were very sick. By the time the winter of 1621 was over, almost half of the Pilgrims had died.
In the spring, the Wampanoag Indians helped the Pilgrims get the land ready for planting. They taught them how to grow wheat, barley, corn, and some vegetables.
After the summer growing season, in the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest by having a 3-day feast. They invited their Native American friends to join them. Without the help of the Wampanoag, the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year.
Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until 1863. That year, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a day to remember the first Thanksgiving. But it wasn't until 1941 that Congress made Thanksgiving Day, the 4th Thursday in November, an official national holiday.
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