The True Story of Thanksgiving

The story that we all know about Thanksgiving is that a bunch of settlers from Europe accidentally landed at Plymouth Rock ,and if it hadn’t been for the good-natured Native Americans, the settlers would have all starved and died. But because of their good hearts, the Native Americans taught the settlers how to grow corn and hunt turkeys and such. Thus after a great crop yield, the settlers invited the nice Native Americans to come and sit down to a grand feast now known as Thanksgiving. This is a myth. False. Almost a lie. Here is the real story.

When settlers first landed in New England in the November of 1620, they arrived on a barren cold merciless piece of land. During the first winter alone, half of the settlers died. Most of the deaths were due to exposure, sickness, and starvation. Then nice Indians came and helped the settlers out by teaching them to fish, grow corn, hunt beavers, and many other things that almost saved the pilgrims. Almost. Please note that the Indians almost saved the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims still had many issues that they had to face, like how the Indian tribe that had helped them that last year were having troubles with another tribe called the Pequots. Then, the Indian tribe that had helped the settlers came to them and asked for their help. The settlers, out of gratitude towards the Indians, agreed and thus  a band of heavily armed hunters and Native Americans set off to deal with the Pequot Indian problem. The triumphant band of volunteer settlers and Indians returned after committing the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women, and children. Colonial governor John Winthrope then ordered a great feast to be held in honor of the safe return of the settlers and Native Americans, thus marking the first ever Thanksgiving.


Then the tradition of sitting down and being thankful one day a year caught on in colonies all over New England. Each town had its own origin stories and were thankful for different things so the true origin was eventually lost with time. Except that Indians still live in America and remember this tragedy. Every year, hundreds of Indians gather at Plymouth Rock for a “day of mourning”.

Most Americans take a different approach

This was obviously not in your textbooks back in elementary school. That version of Thanksgiving was developed sometime in the late 1600’s and was in celebration of a good crop yield that summer or when a large shipment of goods came in from Europe. For the first few hundred years, each colony held Thanksgiving on a different day and it was not until Franklin D. Roosevelt that a law was passed, setting Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November each year. This tradition has only been followed by every state since 1956.

Now, Thanksgiving is celebrated in countries all over the world. Each country has its own reasons for celebrating a day of thanks but the tradition is usually the  same everywhere; the families sit down with each other and each large meal in honor of something that they are thankful for. So what started out as an act of terror evolved into a family reunion that is now celebrated all over the world.

By: Daniel Gallo


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