Thanksgiving Spotlight: Important Thanksgiving Dates

For today’s Thanksgiving Spotlight, we wanted to highlight some important Thanksgiving dates throughout the years. Since the first Thanksgiving feast held between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe in 1621, there have been many events that have helped shape the Thanksgiving tradition that we celebrate today. Here’s a look at some of the most important dates related to the Thanksgiving holiday.


The Signing of the Mayflower Compact
November 11, 1620

This document was signed by 41 English colonists on the Mayflower to create a form of government which would help keep peace and order once they landed.

The Pilgrims Land
November 21, 1620

It all started with a boat full of people seeking religious asylum and new opportunities in the “New World.” A group of “Separatists” fled England to the Netherlands to avoid persecution. However, economic prospects were not proving to be substantial enough for the Separatists, so they decided to board a merchant ship and sail to the colony of Virginia. After 65 rough days at sea, the survivors landed in Cape Cod before moving towards Plymouth where they would eventually settle.

The First Thanksgiving
November 1621

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated following a successful harvest season with the help and intervention of Squanto and the Wampanoag tribe. Unfortunately, the exact date of this harvest celebration was not officially documented.

Lincoln Declares Thanksgiving Day a National Celebration
October 3, 1863

Up until this day, various states observed their own Thanksgiving celebrations, but there was no uniformity to the date it was observed. In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln officially declared the last Thursday of November as a time for Thanksgiving.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
November 27, 1924

Originally touted as a Christmas parade, this much annual holiday spectacle dates back to 1924. It featured entertainers dressed in costume, floats, animals from the Central Park Zoo, and of course, Santa Claus.

Football on Thanksgiving Day
November 29, 1934

This sports fan’s Thanksgiving Day tradition started in 1934 when the owner of the Detroit Lions scheduled one of the team’s most important match-ups to coincide with the national holiday. This tactic proved successful as fans filled the stadium on their day off to watch the game. This eventually inspired other teams to host an annual Thanksgiving game giving football fans even more reason to enjoy the holiday.

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