The U.S is celebrating Thanksgiving this week. Although it is not celebrated in South Africa, I thought it would be nice to take a look at the history of this day.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving was a day to give thanks for the harvest and to give thanks in general.
The first Thanksgiving is seen as a celebration that occurred in Plymouth in 1621. It happened early in the history of what would become one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States. Thanksgiving day did not become a federal holiday until 1941.
Squanto, a Patuxet Native American who resided with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them (Squanto had learned English as a slave in Europe and travels in England). The Pilgrims set apart a day to celebrate at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest, in 1621. At the time, this was not regarded as a Thanksgiving observance; harvest festivals existed in English and Wampanoag tradition alike. Several colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists, are not to be confused with Puritans who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony nearby (current day Boston) in 1628 and had very different religious beliefs.
This is a very short introduction to this holiday. You can read an in-depth article on wikipedia.