Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this beloved US holiday:
In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to a poorly documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest.
In later years, religious thanksgiving services were declared by civil leaders who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in 1623. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival like this did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.
In these modern days, every year, the President of the United States will "pardon" a turkey, which spares the bird's life and ensures that it will spend the duration of its life roaming freely on farmland.
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