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In the United States, the holiday of Thanksgiving was first observed after reaping their first harvest in the fall of 1621. The pilgrims dedicated a day for thanking God for the bounty with which He had blessed them. They had endured the many hardships that came with pioneering a new land. They were at peace with their neighbors. And they were especially grateful for their harvest. In the second half of the 1600s, thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become annual events. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one thanksgiving each year. It continues to be an American tradition celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in November today.
Days of thanksgiving in Canada also originated in the colonial period, arising from the same European traditions, in gratitude for safe journeys, peace, and bountiful harvests. The earliest celebration was held in 1578 and the date has varied over the years. Since 1957 Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October.
Thanksgiving means many things to different people but for most people, the holiday of Thanksgiving is synonymous with festive meals, parades, football, family and friends, and, of course, turkey. For many, it's also about spending time together, catching up and enjoying one another's company. The Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder to give thanks for the good things, people and providential events in our lives. More than half of American families make Thanksgiving dinner special by saying grace, a prayer of thanks.