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The first official Thanksgiving here in America in recorded history was celebrated by the Pilgrims during their second winter of 1621. You may recall that the winter of 1620 was horrible. It was the winter that they first arrived and nearly half of the passengers died from cold-weather exposure and lack of food. But the following year, thanks to God for his great love, mercy, and protection, he sent an Indian to live among them to teach them to hunt, fish, and plant corn. Squanto, as the Pilgrims called him, was believed to have been a “heavenly messenger sent by God “ for their good, as Governor Bradford wrote in a letter. To show gratitude to God and our Savior Jesus Christ, Governor Bradford decreed that on December 13, 1621, the day should be set aside for feasting, thanksgiving, and prayer. They invited their Indian neighbors who came to eat and they brought food with them – so you might say it was America’s first pot-luck!

For years after, October, November, or December was held by the colonists as a time of general thanksgiving. Finally, by the later 1700’s, our first President, George Washington set November as Thanksgiving month. Later, Abraham Lincoln recommended the 4th Thursday of November as an official day of Thanksgiving. The unofficial act became a law in 1941 when Congress made a Joint Resolution to make it a legal holiday.