The famous 'First thanksgiving feast' is said to have taken place in autumn, in the year 1621. The pilgrims organized the feast right after the first harvest. It was a gesture to thank God to help them survive the bitter winter. It was also celebrated as a display of gratitude towards Indians. The feast took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The traditional 'First feast' formed the basis for the modern 'Thanksgiving Day', celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year.
According to historians, the first thanksgiving feast was eaten outside, as the colonists didn't have sufficient space to accommodate everyone. Native Indians were invited to the feast as they were the ones who taught pilgrims how to grow food. The feast was held to rejoice their fruits of labour.
The feast is described in a firsthand account presumably written by a leader of the colony, Edward Winslow. According to him, the governor had sent four men to kill as many fowls. The feast was attended by 90 people including Indians (Native Americans). The food included, ducks, turkeys, geese, swan and venison, fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, and plums. The feast continued for three days. It was accompanied by lots of dancing and merry-making.
The feast was not repeated for the next few years. The next thanksgiving day was celebrated in the year 1676. The year witnessed a severe drought, which was eventually followed by rains due to prayers.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789. The idea attracted mixed reaction. After campaigning for nearly 80 years, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.