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Samuel Mills, Staff Writer

With the holiday season underway, many Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with their families this year. Though the holiday has been boiled down to little more than cranberry sauce and cooked turkey in recent years, there is a rich history behind one of this country’s most well-known traditions.

The first Thanksgiving dates all the way back to the early 17th century, specifically the year 1621. That means that the Thanksgiving of 2021 will be the 400th anniversary of the original holiday!

The two parties that participated in the first Thanksgiving were the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. The Pilgrims were a group of English settlers who had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to avoid religious persecution in their home country. Though their initial destination was farther south, their ship arrived in Massachusetts during the winter of 1620. This winter was not kind to the Pilgrims, with 45 out of 102 Pilgrims dying before the season’s end.

The other party, the Wampanoags—a tribe of Native Americans who lived in Massachusetts and Rhode Island—had a chief named Tisquantum, also known as Squanto. Squanto and the Wampanoags were very hospitable to the Pilgrims. They gave them tips for farming and shared their food with them. Eventually, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags had a three-day long celebration together. This was what later became known as the First Thanksgiving. 

To some, Thanksgiving may seem boring or dull at first; however, learning the history behind this holiday can make people more aware of just how important this thanksgiving really was (and still is) for this country. Next Thanksgiving, remember how, just like Squanto, sharing a bit of kindness with others can change the world, especially during a holiday season as abnormal as this one.