_Are you familiar with the facts and history behind Thanksgiving Day? There’s much more to this tradition than Pilgrims, Indians and great food. Well have no fear; your history lesson is here. The Pilgrims were a group of 102 people who fled their homes in England and sailed to Holland to escape religious persecution. They found more religious tolerance in Holland but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it lacked godliness. Seeking a better life, the Pilgrims negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America. The Pilgrims set sail aboard the Mayflower and settled at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts on December 11, 1620. Their first year was devastating with the loss of 46 lives. The next year improved greatly thanks to a tribe of 91 Indians who helped the Pilgrims plant crops. They soon enjoyed a great bounty and the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast with the Indians.
In 1623, during a severe drought, the Pilgrims gathered in a prayer service, praying for rain. A long, soaking rain followed the next day and another day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed, also to be shared with their Indian friends. It wasn’t until October 1777 that all 13 colonies joined in to commemorate a thanksgiving celebration. But, it was a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale whose efforts we should credit for our nationally recognized November holiday.
Sarah was born on a farm in Newport, New Hampshire on October 24, 1788. She had a love of education at an early age despite the wisdom of this time to educate men, not women. Sarah established a private school, received several college degrees, wrote books, (including the children’s nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little lamb.”), edited magazines and best of all, married her true love and had five children. For 40 years, Sarah lobbied five presidents and wrote countless editorials and letters to congressmen, all in hopes of creating a national day of thanks. Finally, at the age of 75, Sarah’s dream became a reality. In 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as our national day of Thanksgiving.
Sarah’s passion to recognize the plight of the Pilgrims, the giving nature of the Indians and the realization of the great things that happen when people work together are truths we can all learn from today. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks Sarah!
Kirsten Berger Coaching