The Rancho Santa Fe Post

The History of Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving tradition began in 1621 when the American settlers, known as the Pilgrims, invited a local Native American tribe to partake in a feast with them to celebrate a plentiful harvest. The year prior had been one of plight, as many of the Pilgrims died due to starvation, exposure, and scurvy. The local tribe taught the Pilgrims how to effectively grow crops in their new environment, as well as fish and collect food, leading to a plentiful first Thanksgiving. 

Contrary to how we celebrate Thanksgiving today, the general consensus is that Turkey was not on the menu for this original Thanksgiving. Historians believe "The three-day feast included goose, lobster, cod and deer." These are certainly different from the foods we associate with this holiday today, however, these would have been the most plentiful in the region of the Pacific Northeast where the Plymouth Plantation was located.  

The celebratory feast, along with the assistance provided by the local native tribe to the settlers, provides one of the few examples of American settlers coexisting harmoniously with the native peoples. 

Days of thanks were often celebrated by settlers of the original colonies. The first official Thanksgiving day proclamation from the U.S. government was issued by President George Washington in 1789. President Abraham Lincoln finally made the holiday official at the height of the Civil War, asking Americans to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” From that point on, until 1939, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last Thursday of every November. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up in hopes of assisting retail sales after the Great Depression. This change, however, was met with much resistance, leading Roosevelt to eventually designate the fourth Thursday of November as the official Thanksgiving holiday. 

Today, the tradition of Thanksgiving is centered around being thankful for what we have and spending time with friends and family. Each family has its unique traditions, from what is eaten among other things, but the idea behind the celebrations is generally the same. The community of Rancho Santa Fe has so much to be thankful for, and we at RSF Post hope that you make the most of this holiday. Enjoy time with family and friends, and maybe even find a way to give back to your community. 

Happy Thanksgiving RSF!