How Did We Get Thanksgiving
By Carlton Holliday Jr.
This is the time of year when families gather together to give thanks and to show their appreciation for life. With the help of great food, entertainment, football --- and in some cases a few drinks --- millions of Americans travel great distances and put their busy schedules on hold to spend a few days with loved ones.
Some 70 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill declaring the fourth Thursday of every November a day of thanks. This cultural tradition originated over 300 years ago and has its roots in early America. English settlers searching far and wide for a place to escape and begin a new society embarked on a treacherous voyage and eventually settled reached the new land. A celebration and observance took place in the fall of 1621. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, one of America's first colonies, there was a great festival where its governor, William Bradford, invited the local Indians to join the Pilgrims in festivities. There the two vowed for peace amongst the two groups and exchanged ideas on how to become more proficient in harvesting.
Thanksgiving eventually became an annual tradition even celebrated by our nation's first fathers. In 1789, President George Washington requested to Congress to make November, 26th a national holiday. This day originally fell on a Tuesday. It wasn't until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving should fall on the final Thursday of every November. For every year until 1939 this tradition was followed until President Roosevelt declared November 23, the next to last Tuesday of that year, as Thanksgiving.
A lot of controversy came in result of his decision. For the next two years he followed his decision, which upset many Americans. He then later admitted his mistake and reversed his decision by signing a bill into law making the fourth Thursday of November Thanksgiving. With his law the 23rd of November could eventually fall on any day of the week or weekend.
Shouldn't we be appreciative of everything we have and make time for those who we love every day of the year not just during the holiday season? Does there really need to be just one specific day set aside out of the 365 to give thanks and show gratitude for life? Isn't it ironic, that just less than 24 hours after being so grateful and appreciative, millions of Americans rush into stores pushing, shoving and trampling one another for sales and to buy more things to be appreciative of.