When was the first Thanksgiving?
Updated: Jan 16
Happy Thanksgiving! Did you know there are several claims on the "first Thanksgiving"? Well, of course there are, Thanksgiving isn't something pilgrims invented... right? Of course when I Googled the question, I found your typical "The first Thanksgiving was in 1621", which is what most of us learned in school (don't worry, I don't remember that either), but there were a few sources which said everything we know is wrong. So I went hunting for a source I felt I could trust, but also made sense. Enter the Library of Congress.
What I love about the Loc.gov site are the tabs on what they call the "Thanksgiving Timeline", (each tab has a year on it) and it explains who, what, and when things happened, and then the group or person who declared this event "the first Thanksgiving". On the 1621 tab, it mentions in 1841 Dr. Alexander Young contended the first harvest with the pilgrims and the Wampanoag in the year 1621 was the "first Thanksgiving" and the origin of the American tradition, leading to a widespread acceptance and the rest of the claims fading away.
It should be noted however, there are other claims earlier and newer, including a proclamation in 1815 by President James Madison for a national day of Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving day being made a federal holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 (thanks to Sarah Hale).
No matter when the "first Thanksgiving" actually was, I'm thankful it's still around today.
What are you thankful for this year?