Many people think Thanksgiving is uniquely a tradition of the United States. A day of giving thanks is typical throughout time and history. Countries currently celebrating in late October and November are the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia. Some historians believe Canada had the first Thanksgiving in North America; others believe the first Thanksgiving was in Florida. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday.
In 1620, the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers to the New World. 66 days later, and an almost disastrous journey, the ship anchored at Cape Cod, missing their intended destination. The vessel crossed into Massachusettes Bay one month later, where the Pilgrims started a colony at Plymouth. Most passengers decided to stay on the Mayflower due to sickness, fear, and other issues.
As the Pilgrims were setting up their colony, a member of the Abenaki tribe came to visit them. The second time this Native came to talk, he brought someone else with him. This person was known as Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe.
Squanto was taken captive years ago by an English sea captain and sold into slavery. Eventually, Squanto escaped slave and lived in London. Being educated and speaking English fluently, he taught the Pilgrims how to grow crops, hunt, what plants to avoid, and how to fish.
Because of Squanto’s efforts, the English became very proficient in all areas, and in 1621 Mayor William Bradford declared a day of thanks and invited the Natives who helped his colony. The food for the feast consisted of lobster, seal, swan, octopi, and other fish. For fifty years, the Native Indians and pilgrims lived in peace.
As other colonies formed, each had its own day of feast not corresponding with other territories. It was until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.