How and why Thanksgiving Day came to be celebrated has different versions. As per one popular version, in 1621, colonists from Europe who had reached Plymouth in the US on Mayflower ship shared an autumn meal with native Wampanoag Indians - and this meal and event is acknowledged as one of the first celebrations marking Thanksgiving in the colonies.
For more than 200 years Thanksgiving was celebrated by individual colonies and states in North America. It was in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln called upon people to celebrate a national Thanksgiving Day each November.
Thanksgiving Day is not without controversy. When the Mayflower anchored in Plymouth, the colonists who came in the ship from Europe received a lot of help from native Indian tribes, some of whom knew English - being slaves of English masters - and taught and informed the first colonists what and how to farm corn, etc., and survive. They also helped forge alliances with other local native Indian tribes. But in time, these very natives were enslaved, mistreated, killed and manipulated as colonists began to settle and empower themselves in settlement after settlement. So, on Thanksgiving, some Native Americans and their supporters stage a protest for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
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