Thanksgiving Then vs Now 

Morgan Wilkerson

Thanksgiving is the holiday for food, football, family and friends. Thanksgiving wasn’t always about that, It all started on September 1620, a ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England. The Mayflower carried 102 passengers and religious settlers looking for a new place to freely practice their religions and faiths. Other settlers were promised prosperity and land ownership in the new world. After a very uncomfortable trip that lasted 66 days, they stopped around Cape Cod, far north of their original destination, at the mouth of the Hudson River. A month later the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay where the pilgrims began building the village at Plymouth. 

Oil on canvas. “Pilgrims Going to Church” by George Henry Boughton. (1867)


The first winter was brutal. They suffered from exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of contagious illnesses. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers survived to the first New England spring in March. The remaining settlers moved ashore where they received a visit from a member of the Abenaki tribe who greeted them in English. Later on, the member of the Abenaki tribe came back with Squanto, a member of the Pawtuexet tribe, who has been kidnapped by an English sea captain who sold him into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland.

Squanto taught the pilgrims how to cultivate corn, get syrup from maple trees, catch fish in rivers, and avoid poisonous plants. Squanto helped the pilgrims form an alliance with the Wampanoag, another local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years, and tragically, remains, one of the sole examples of harmony between the colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the pilgrim’s first corn harvest was successful, governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast, that is now known as America’s first Thanksgiving. Later in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, on the fourth Thursday of November.  

 Thanksgiving is different now. We still celebrate with friends and family and eat together. The food choices are a little different now. We eat, turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. Those are some of the most common Thanksgiving food.

For those who were curious why there’s always a game on this day of thanks, football was associated with Thanksgiving because the first football game championship was on Thanksgiving in 1876.

We all have our Thanksgiving traditions, but it’s still time to spend with your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving MHS.

To honor this season, our students wrote what they were thankful for on leaves.