On this occasion they no doubt feasted on the wild turkey as well as venison.” PURITAN HOLIDAY The American Thanksgiving also has its origin in the faith practices of Puritan New England, where strict Calvinist doctrine sanctioned only the Sabbath, fast days and thanksgivings as religious holidays or “holy days.” To the Puritans, a true “thanksgiving” was a day of prayer and pious humiliation, thanking God for His special Providence.Auspicious events, such as the sudden ending of war, drought or pestilence, might inspire a thanksgiving proclamation. Simultaneously instituted in Plymouth, Connecticut and Massachusetts, Thanksgiving became a regular event by the middle of the 17th century and it was proclaimed each autumn by the individual Colonies.The new element was to celebrate their 70th year in practise.

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In 1621, when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the Harvest Home tradition with feasting and sport (recreation).

To these people of strong Christian faith, this was not merely a revel; it was also a joyous outpouring of gratitude.

Florida, Texas, Maine and Virginia each declare itself the site of the First Thanksgiving and historical documents support the various claims.

Spanish explorers and other English Colonists celebrated religious services of thanksgiving years before arrived.

Giving thanks was, and still is, the primary reason for ceremonies or celebrations.

As with Native traditions in America, celebrations - complete with merrymaking and feasting - in England and throughout Europe after a successful crop are as ancient as the harvest-time itself.

The arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans brought new Thanksgiving traditions to the American scene.

Today’s national Thanksgiving celebration is a blend of two traditions: the New England custom of rejoicing after a successful harvest, based on ancient English harvest festivals; and the Puritan Thanksgiving, a solemn religious observance combining prayer and feasting.

Carried by Yankee emigrants moving westward and the popular press, New England’s holiday traditions would spread to the rest of the nation.