Origin of Thanksgiving

The origin of Thanksgiving is an example of a traditional holiday that has been surrounded by some controversy. Some people believe that the history of Thanksgiving goes much deeper than the Pilgrims and Native Americans.

Learn the Thanksgiving facts for yourself through diligent study and research beyond what may be found in typical home school curriculums. Choose printable worksheets and other resources to help you to discover and share the truth concerning this traditional holiday observance.

Traditional Overview

A good traditional, elementary history textbook, such as those by Abeka or Bob Jones University Press, will cover the details about the traditions that led to the first feast that has come to be known as our Thanksgiving holiday.

It has been retold that the Pilgrims were in search of religious freedom so they left their home to come to the New World.

They landed at Plymouth Rock, MA and were greeted by the natives who were already living there. Today, we refer to them as Native Americans. The names of some well-known Indians include Squanto, Samoset, and Massasoit.

These Native Americans were instrumental in helping the European settlers survive the harsh weather which they were unaccustomed to and ill-prepared to handle. They helped with many basic agricultural practices so the Pilgrims would have food to eat.

In addition to adapting to a new environment, the Pilgrims were also challenged with diseases that they contracted or brought over from their homeland. Many of them died as did many within the Indian tribes, too.

Holiday Vocabulary

Most people however are very accustomed to the widely accepted facts concerning the origin of Thanksgiving. For example, when you think about this holiday, some of the primary Thanksgiving words that immediately come to mind include words such as these:

Commonly Used Thanksgiving Vocabulary

  • Thanksgiving
  • Pumpkin
  • Corn
  • Feast
  • Cornucopia
  • Harvest
  • Turkey
  • Prayer

  • Stuffing
  • Pilgrims
  • Indians
  • Plymouth
  • Mayflower
  • Blessings
  • Cornbread
  • Massasoit

History tells us the Mayflower landed in 1620, so that would be over three hundred years ago. As you prepare for your celebration with family and friends, consider what it might have been like for all those who were present back in those days.

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