The Pilgrim Fathers – later to become known as The Pilgims – set sail from Plymouth on 16th September 1620 in the ‘Mayflower’ captained by Myles Standish and steered a course for Virginia. The ship was a double-decked, three-masted vessel. However, a storm blew them off course and they reached land at Cape Cod which they subsequently renamed Plymouth Rock. Anchor was dropped on November 21st 1620.
The Plaque below reads:
On the 6th of September 1620, the Mayorality of Thomas Townes after being kindly entertained and courteously used by divers Friends there dwelling, the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth in the Mayflower in the Providence of God to settle in New Plymouth and to lay the foundations of the New England States The ancient Cawsey whence they embarked was destroyed not many Years afterwards but the Site of their Embarkation is marked by the Stone bearing the name of the MAYFLOWER in the pavement of the adjacent Pier.
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. This harvest meal has become a symbol of cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans. Although this feast is considered by many to the very first Thanksgiving celebration, it was actually in keeping with a long tradition of celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops. Native American groups throughout the Americas, including the Pueblo, Cherokee, Creek and many others organized harvest festivals, ceremonial dances, and other celebrations of thanks for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in North America.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation in 1942 designating the fourth Thursday in November (which is not always the last Thursday) as Thanksgiving Day.
As the country became more urban and family members began to live farther apart, Thanksgiving became a time to gather together. The holiday moved away from its religious roots to allow immigrants of every background to participate in a common tradition.
Thanksgiving Day football games, beginning with Yale versus Princeton in 1876, enabled fans to add some rowdiness to the holiday. In the late 1800s parades of costumed revelers became common. In 1920 Gimbel’s department store in Philadelphia staged a parade of about 50 people with Santa Claus at the rear of the procession. Since 1924 the annual Macy’s parade in New York City has continued the tradition, with huge balloons since 1927. The holiday associated with Pilgrims and Native Americans has come to symbolize intercultural peace, America’s opportunity for newcomers, and the sanctity of home and family.
Happy Thanksgiving, I wish you all a wonderful time with your family, spending precious time with those nearest and dearest to you.