Excerpt:Â It was a bitter two-month sea journey the Pilgrims endured on their passage from England to Plymouth Rock. Upon landing, they gathered for a prayer service before setting out to build shelter. They were severely unprepared for the harsh New England winter that was approaching.After that winter of 1620 killed almost half of their population, the Pilgrims were befriended by members of the Wampanoag Tribe. The Indians taught the naive colonists about fishing, planting and hunting, thereby ensuring their survival. When the fall of 1621 began to set in, they had reaped a bountiful harvest and preserved enough food to allow them to survive the coming winter, thanks to their Indian neighbors.
As an expression of their thanks to God, the colonists hosted a three-day feast to celebrate the harvest and the transformation of their fortunes from the previous winter. This meal today is thought of as the first Thanksgiving.
In the years to come during the fall, the governor of each New England colony would declare a day of Thanksgiving so that the people could prayerfully thank God for supplying their needs.
In 1777, the Continental Congress decreed that all 13 colonies were to jointly celebrate victory over the British.