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The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a large meal, starring a large roasted turkey. All of the dishes in a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner are made from foods native to North America, the Pilgrims having received these foods from the Indians.

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Thanksgiving Prayer

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Prayer of Christians

For the haunting rhythm of our universe,
we thank you, Creator and Lord.
For the still-reaching reachers of our world,
we thank you, Creator and Lord.

For giving us a history and a destiny,
we thank you, Redeemer and Lord.
For becoming yourself, a man among men,
we thank you, Redeemer and Lord.

For drawing us into the mystery of life and love,
we thank you, Spirit and Lord.
For touching us with stars and blades of grass,
we thank you, Spirit and Lord.


A Thanksgiving Prayer

by Samuel F. Pugh

"O God, when I have food,
     help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
     help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
     help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
     help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
     help me to destroy my complacency;
     bestir my compassion,
     and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
     those who cry out for what we take for granted.

Origins of Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is an annual day of thanks for the blessings of the past year, observed on the fourth Thursday in November in each of the states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It is a historical, national, and religious holiday that began with the Pilgrims. After the survival of their first colony through the bitter winter, and the gathering of the harvest, Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth Colony issued a thanksgiving proclamation in the autumn of 1621. This first thanksgiving lasted three days, during which the Pilgrims feasted on wild turkey and venison with their Indian guests.

Days of thanksgiving were celebrated sporadically until, on November 26, 1789, President Washington issued a proclamation of a nation-wide day of thanksgiving. He made it clear that the day should be one of prayer and giving thanks to God. It was to be celebrated by all religious denominations, a circumstance that helped to promote a spirit of common heritage.

Credit for establishing this day as a national holiday is usually given to Sarah J. Hale, editor and founder of the Ladies' Magazine (from 1828) in Boston. Her editorials in the magazine and letters to President Lincoln urging the formal establishment of a national holiday of thanksgiving resulted in Lincoln's proclamation in 1863, designating the last Thursday in November as the day. Succeeding presidents annually followed his example, except for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1939 proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a week earlier--on the fourth but not the last Thursday--to encourage holiday shopping. In 1941, Congress adopted a joint resolution setting the date on the fourth Thursday.

Source: Origins of Thanksgiving

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