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A brief history on how Thanksgiving came to be

Thanksgiving is a favorite time of year in America.

Whether it's for love of country, appreciation that they have a job or having the financial means needed to send money home to their families, immigrants routinely express their appreciation for the things they have. And while gratitude is something that many people express on a regular basis, there's an official day that's devoted to appreciation.

As many are well aware, the fourth Thursday of every November is Thanksgiving – the time of year where families and friends gather and give thanks for all that they've been graced with, like good health, a roof over their head, food on the table and clothes on their backs.

But what people may not be aware of is how Thanksgiving started. Here's a brief background of the holiday.

Immigrants may be particularly appreciative of Thanksgiving. After all, the day has its foundations in people leaving one country for another to pursue a new life with new goals.

Before the U.S. was officially colonized, Native Americans were the original settlers of the U.S. Having lived in the country for thousands of years, they knew a lot about it, such as how to grow various crops, hunt and navigate the terrain.

Meanwhile, far across the Atlantic Ocean, there was a band of people who wished to start a new life. In order to do this, though, they needed to break away from the Church of England, which was one of the main religions of the world at the time.

These individuals, more commonly referred to as "the pilgrims," were able to do this after obtaining the funds they needed from various English merchants who told them about a distant land they could reach by boat. Of course, that land is present-day America.

In 1621, several months after setting sail, they finally arrived to the "New World," the same one that the Native Americans had long called their homes. As anyone would, the pilgrims did all they could to gather what was around so that they could set up dwelling places and provide food for the men, women and children who arrived on the massive ship known as the Mayflower. But it wasn't until a Native American by the name of Squanto introduced himself that the pilgrims got familiar with the area. Squanto served as a teacher to the pilgrims, showing them how to produce and cultivate various crops like wheat, corn and rice. They were also taught how to hunt and build.

With their new-found skills, several of these pilgrims were sent out to hunt so that their fellow settlers could enjoy a meal. Alarmed by the gunshot noises, though, many people from Squanto's tribe, known as the Wampanoag, went to investigate, worried that they may be under attack. It wasn't too long before the Wampanoag came to the realization that these gunshots were from the pilgrims who were hunting for food.

Pilgrims, Native Americans gathered together for a meal
It's at this time that the Native Americans and pilgrims, united. Historians say that over the course of three days, the settlers and Wampanoag celebrated as friends with their loved ones alongside.

While Thanksgiving is believed to have its origins with the pilgrims and Native Americans, it actually wasn't until the late 19th century – 1863, to be exact – that it was officially designated as a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln.

Immigrants can be especially proud of Thanksgiving, as these are the people that made America possible. Nasser Kazeminy, chairman of the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, urged all Americans to give thanks for those who founded the country – the original immigrants.

"We are respectfully suggesting that, as people prepare to enjoy their meals, we pause and offer to those who have assembled for this holiday some words that acknowledge what an amazing country we are," said Kazeminy. 

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