Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA on the fourth Thursday of November and it lasts four days. The Pilgrim Fathers, who were the founders of a colony in North America started this long standing tradition. These people were ‘puritans’ who wanted to escape from the persecution of The Church of England. They sailed on a ship from Plymouth called The Mayflower on 6th September 1620. There were 102 men, women and children aboard The Mayflower.
They arrived at their destination, on the north-east coast of America on 11th December that year and called the place Plymouth. Having arrived in winter, it was very cold and food was scarce, so they set about building small houses and planting crops. However, the crops died from the frost and cold. Many of the settlers died of hunger that winter. By spring, they had befriended local native Americans; The Wampanoag, who taught them how to hunt, breed animals for food, live in the wilderness and helped them plant crops. By the following winter, everyone had enough food and no-one died. There was now hope for the future.
Governor William Bradford, who was the pilgrim leader decided to celebrate with a dinner for the natives and pilgrims together. This was the very first Thanksgiving celebration, it lasted three whole days and they thanked God for saving them. Today, the Thanksgiving meal is very similar to that first meal; turkey, with cranberry sauce, potatoes, local vegetables or salad and pumpkin pie. It is also a time for charity with many organisations giving generously to the poor and underprivileged people. In New York and other parts of the country there are parades and celebrations with over 2 million visitors to New York alone for this event.