The First Thanksgiving

In the year 1621, the colonists from Plymouth had their first feast with the Native Americans, the Wampanoag.  This feast was a harvest feast and is now known as Thanksgiving.  We have celebrated this holiday for many years in order to celebrate this time of giving.


In the month of September in 1620, there was a ship that was in Plymouth, England, and it left to go to the “New World.”  This ship was called the Mayflower.

Why the New World?

The reason that these colonists left England was that they were being told that they had to worship a certain way and that they had to live a certain way under the rulers of England.

The people did not want to be told what to do, and so they decided to travel to the New World.

They were told in the New World that there was a lot of lands and they would be able to own their own places and have their own homes and freedom.

66 Days

It took around 66 days for the Mayflower to reach the Massachusetts Bay.  When they got there, they began working on trying to build a new life for themselves.


The first winter was very bad, and many of the colonists stayed on the ship.  The problem was that disease came on the ship, and it was contagious, and so it spread to many of the people there.

The passengers begin to die from the disease and be very sick.  Only around half of the people that were on the ship were able to see spring come,


When spring finally came, the settlers moved to the shore, and this was the first time that they met an Indian, and his name was Abenaki.  He spoke to them in English, and then a few days later, he came back with another Native American called Squanto.


Squanto had been kidnapped by a sea captain that was English, and he was sold into slavery.  After he escaped from London, he moved back to his home.


Squanto was very helpful for the settlers, the Pilgrims, and he taught them how to do things such as to plant and cultivate corn, how to fish, and how to get the sap to make maple syrup from the trees.  He also taught them what plants to avoid that were poisonous and many other things that helped them to survive.


It was because of Squanto that the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag had peace with each other.

First Thanksgiving

After the first corn was cultivated and grew successfully, the governor at the time, William Bradford, made a feast and invited the Native American’s including Wampanoag’s chief, Chief Massasoit.

The Native Americans and the Pilgrims ate together for three days, and they had a large feast that many people believed used Native American spices and things that were grown on the land.

Facts About the First Thanksgiving:

  • Many people believe that there were deer, fruits, vegetables, and much more food than those three days.
  • There were no pies, cakes, and other desserts like we have today for Thanksgiving.
  • The second Thanksgiving was held in 1623.
  • George Washington made Thanksgiving a holiday in 1789.
  • Thanksgiving is a time for Americans to be happy that they are free and that they had peace with their neighbors.
  • New York was the first state to have a yearly Thanksgiving holiday.

What Did You Learn?

What happened to the colonists when they first came to the New World?
Many of the colonists died because they came, and it was winter, and then a disease came.

How many survived the first winter on the ship?
There were around half of them that survived.

What was the first crop that the settlers learned to plant?
The first crop was corn.

Who taught the settlers to hunt and plant food?
The Native Americans taught the settlers to hunt and plant food.

What were the settlers called?  
The first settlers were called Pilgrims.