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The Story of the First Thanksgiving

For over 12,000 years the Wampanoag had lived in the area that is now eastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Over the years they had received other European visitors before they were visited by the Mayflower and its passengers. They knew this land better than anyone else.

Then the Mayflower showed up near the shores of their home. The passengers on this ship originated from England but had been eager to escape the religion of the Church of England. They had originally fled to Holland but there they struggled with money problems for 12 years. Eventually, English merchants provided them with enough money to sail across the ocean, searching for a new home. The ship that these people sailed on was called the Mayflower. It carried them the 101 passengers for 66 days. They were initially planning to drop anchor where New York city is now located, but because of the wind, they took a shorter route that landed them near the shores of the home of the Wampanoag people.

The leader of the Abenaki tribe, Samoset, and Squanto (whose real name was Tisquantum) went to see the English settlers. Squanto taught the Englishmen how to use fish to fertilize their fields and how to grow corn. He was part of the Wampanoag tribe, he knew English, and he had encountered other English settlers before. After many meeting together, in March of 1621, the two groups officially agreed that they would protect each other from other native people and their tribes.

On fall day, later that season, a foursome of Puritans were sent out to hunt for their harvest celebration. They used their guns to kill their prey, and when the Wampanoag heard the shots that were fired, they warned Massasoit, their leader. Massasoit thought they were getting ready to fight in a war, so he and 90 of his soldiers went to the English camp to see if their thoughts were correct. Soon after they went to the English camp, it registered to them that they were only hunting for the harvest celebration. So, Massasoit directed some of his men from the tribe to go and hunt deer for the banquet. For three straight days, the Puritans and the Native Americans ate meals that were made of roasted meat, shellfish, deer, and corn.

Together the Puritans and the native people danced, sang, and played games with balls. Together, they created the first Thanksgiving.

Modern Day Thanksgiving

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving by spending time with family and friends. This day takes place on the fourth Thursday of every November. We like to have large meals (not like the meals had with the Native Americans and the English settlers but with Turkey's, rolls and more) with the people that we love and we give thanks to things that have happened and to the people around us. There is also a special tradition that happens in New York City every year, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is a parade with balloons, floats, performances and more. Many people watch this every year on television or live in New York. Thanksgiving is a time to be with your family and to be thankful for what you have. Many people forget that each year. We need to always remember what makes our lives good, and to celebrate it just like how the Native Americans and the Puritans celebrated their achievements that year.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014 (Full) Central Park West
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