The Pilgrims who set sail to America aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church in England. The Pilgrims decided to leave England to find religious freedom. They reached Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. The first winter they were here was devastating. By the beginning of the next fall they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. The Pilgrims decided to celebrate with a feast that included themselves and 91 Indians. The Indians had helped them survive their first year. The Pilgrims would have never made it if it were not for the help of the Indians. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days. The men caught geese and ducks. It is not known if turkey was part of their feast at all. They ate boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. It also included fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789. In 1941, Congress sanctioned Thanksgiving as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
Some of the traditions and customs of Thanksgiving are families gathering for a Thanksgiving Dinner which usually includes turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing, squash, and potatoes. Thanksgiving is also a day when a lot of football games are played. It also marks the beginning of the Christmas season.