Although the first Thanksgiving is attributed to the Pilgrims and Wampanoag in Plymouth in 1621, many cultures have celebrated harvest festivals for centuries. Historians think the first European Thanksgiving in America took place in Florida in 1513. By the mid-1600s, colonists in New England held annual celebrations but there was no set day. In 1789, George Washington declared the last Thursday in November “A Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer.”
But Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln proclaimed it so in 1863. And that may never have come about without the work of one remarkable woman, Sarah Hale, abolitionist, writer, magazine editor and composer of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
You can read about Sarah’s hard work in Thank You, Sarah. It’s the source of all the info above as well as a fun read.
This is also an excellent time to find out more about American Indian culture and tribes.
This gives a great overview of tribes in America today: locations, customs, legends, how they are supporting themselves, famous people and lots and lots of pictures. For instance, did you know the third largest blueberry farm in the world belongs to the Wabanaki? Or that basket hats are part of Yuroks’ native apparel, worn on special occasions? Or that a clambake is a special way for Wampanoags to celebrate?
If you are wondering what Wampanoag are like today, read Clambake. At the time of this book, Steven was a 12-year-old sixth grader in Plymouth, Massachusetts, who loves sports and video games. He and his grandfather , Fast Turtle, are hosting clambake and his grandfather uses it as way to clue in his grandson – and us-about Wamapanoag traditions.
Although I didn’t tell you this is one of my favorite novels before, it really is. I think of it as a must-read companion to any of the Little House on the Prairie books because it gives you an idea of how colonists affected Indians. Little Frog fights with her brother, plays games with other children and helps out her family like anyone else. But she also must move with the seasons and with the coming invasion of European settlers. Little Frog is quite mischievous, brave and thoughtful. Don’t miss her.