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The Gift of Thanks - The First Thanksgiving

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Most kids love Thanksgiving because there is no school and they get to eat turkey with family. Furthermore, most kids know the basic history behind the celebration of Thanksgiving. They know that many years ago the pilgrims who traveled to the New World from England sat down together to celebrate a successful harvest with a feast. The Native Americans living in the New World gave them help in creating a successful crop. The following are some other interesting details about Thanksgiving that kids can think about as they enjoy celebrating with their families.

When the Plymouth colonists reached the New World in 1620 they were exhausted from their travels. The journey from England had taken over two months. Many of the colonists were very ill and weak from hunger. With their arrival in the New World, the hardships of the colonists had just begun. They had to build shelters, find clean water, and grow crops in order to stay alive in this strange new place. With the help of Native Americans like Squanto and the Wampanoag tribe, the colonists learned how to grow crops, fish, and make their way through the wilderness around them. The first Thanksgiving occurred in November of 1621. It was a celebration of the first successful harvest. The Native Americans and pilgrims celebrated this tremendous accomplishment together.

Today, there are several typical Thanksgiving dishes that kids enjoy with their families. Some examples of items found on a typical Thanksgiving Day table are a turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, corn, potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Of course, every family has its own traditions. Not surprisingly, there are many differences between the first Thanksgiving celebration in the 17th century and most 21st century Thanksgiving celebrations. First, the pilgrims’ supply of sugar was very low so there weren’t a lot of dessert items on the first Thanksgiving table. Also, the Native Americans brought deer to the meal so it’s likely that everyone ate deer meat instead of turkey. Corn was a part of the pilgrim’s harvest so it played a big part on the first Thanksgiving table. All of the dishes on the first Thanksgiving table took lots of time and effort to prepare. This made the people at the table all the more thankful. Unlike today, the first Thanksgiving lasted three days! Of course, depending on the size of the turkey, a 21st century kid may enjoy eating turkey sandwiches for three days.

On the first Thanksgiving, all of the Plymouth colonists gathered together to enjoy the feast with the Native Americans who helped them with their crops. The group of colonists was like a family because they shared the challenges of establishing a home in the New World. Many had lost family members on the voyage to the New World from England. The pilgrims had suffered through the winter season that began just after they arrived. The people at that first Thanksgiving table had been through a lot with one another on their journey to freedom in the New World! Perhaps this feast made the pilgrims begin to feel at home in this new country. In the 21st century, some families invite relatives and friends over to share their Thanksgiving meal. In short, Thanksgiving has always been a celebration shared with others.

In the New World, the colonists who enjoyed the first Thanksgiving feast were thankful for the first harvest. The harvest was a blessing and the colonists took it as a sign that they were going to succeed in the New World. Today, kids may want to think about what Thanksgiving Day means to them. A kid can be thankful for his or her family and friends. Kids can be thankful for their homes, schools, and fun activities. Thanksgiving is a celebration that gives both kids and adults the opportunity to be thankful for lots of things in their lives.

Since the first celebration in 1621, Thanksgiving Day has gone through a lot of changes. Throughout the centuries, the menu on Thanksgiving Day has changed along with the ways people celebrate the occasion. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the feeling of gratitude that is alive and well on Thanksgiving Day!

For more information on the first Thanksgiving, please visit:

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