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Did the British settlers in America start Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the most popular festival in America. It is celebrated with a family meal of turkey and all the trimmings, not dissimilar to a traditional English Christmas dinner, and is a time when families come together to give thanks for what they have.

But how did it all start and by who?

The origins of Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1621 when the pilgrims from Europe, who settled in what is now called Massachusetts, started celebrating a successful harvest with a big family meal.

The pilgrims were from England and the Netherlands, who set sail for what was then called the “New World” in 1620.  It is believed 102 passengers and a crew of about 30 set off on the voyage in a ship called the “Mayflower” from the harbour in Plymouth, England.

The Mayflower was a merchant ship and provided plenty of storage so that the pilgrims could take what they would need to start a new life and included tools and live animals. The voyage started on September 6 1620 and took well over two months as the weather conditions were harsh.

There arrival at what is now known as “Cape Cod” is recorded as November 20 1620. The crew battled against the weather for several days trying to sail south to their planned destination, which was the Colony of Virginia, where they had permission to settle, but the weather did not permit this and they were forced to return to the harbour of Cape Cod.

By this time there was unrest amongst the pilgrims and the “Mayflower Compact” was drawn up and signed as a way of keeping peace and introducing law and order amongst this new community.

Whilst the voyage had been harsh the pilgrims where ill-prepared for the bitter weather conditions they experienced in their new home and almost half of them perished. The remaining survived after finding reserves of corn in an empty native village and by bartering food with the natives.

Replica of the Plymouth Settlement from 1620 in Massachusetts

The captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, took several men to find a suitable place where a settlement could be started. And on December 11 1620 they found a clearing that had been left by the natives after an outbreak of smallpox had wiped out the village.

The settlement was named Plymouth Colony and the pilgrims started building homes and working the land.  After the first successful harvest the community celebrated with a meal and that is how the tradition of Thanksgiving started.

Initially each community celebrated on a different date in November until George Washington declared it as a national holiday, in 1789. And declared it would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.

We found this super easy recipe for a Thanksgiving turkey for you guys who are away from home could try out.  And for dessert you should try out our pumpkin pie recipe.

Let us know how it comes out.  And have a great Thanksgiving Day.

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