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To these people of strong Christian faith, this was not merely a revel; it was also a joyous outpouring of gratitude.
On this occasion they no doubt feasted on the wild turkey as well as venison.” PURITAN HOLIDAY The American Thanksgiving also has its origin in the faith practices of Puritan New England, where strict Calvinist doctrine sanctioned only the Sabbath, fast days and thanksgivings as religious holidays or “holy days.” To the Puritans, a true “thanksgiving” was a day of prayer and pious humiliation, thanking God for His special Providence.
Auspicious events, such as the sudden ending of war, drought or pestilence, might inspire a thanksgiving proclamation. Simultaneously instituted in Plymouth, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Thanksgiving became a regular event by the middle of the 17th century and it was proclaimed each autumn by the individual Colonies.
However, few people knew about these events until the 20th century.
They were isolated celebrations, forgotten long before the establishment of the American holiday, and they played no role in the evolution of Thanksgiving. Baker states in his book, , "despite disagreements over the details" the 3-day event in Plymouth in the fall of 1621 was "the historical birth of the American Thanksgiving holiday." So how did the Pilgrims and Wampanoag come to be identified with the First Thanksgiving? W.” (Edward Winslow) to a friend in England, he says: “And God be praised, we had a good increase….
After 1890, representations of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag began to reflect a shift of interest to the 1621 harvest celebration.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the Pilgrims and the Thanksgiving holiday were used to teach children about American freedom and how to be good citizens.
Two years later, in 1941, Congress responded by permanently establishing the holiday as the fourth Thursday in the month.
THE PILGRIM AND WAMPANOAG ROLE The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag were not particularly identified with Thanksgiving until about 1900, though interest in the Pilgrims as historic figures began shortly before the American Revolution.
The President declared two national Thanksgivings that year, one for August 6 celebrating the victory at Gettysburg and a second for the last Thursday in November.
Neither Lincoln nor his successors, however, made the holiday a fixed annual event.
She publicly petitioned several Presidents to make it an annual event.